FIFA president Sepp Blatter offered up his strongest words yet regarding the scandal- and problem-plagued Qatar bid for the 2022 World Cup, admitting what nearly everyone else already has: "Of course," Blatter told a Swiss TV station, "it was a mistake."
"You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life," Blatter continued, and sure, who hasn't overseen a World Cup bid process rampant with bribery allegations, eventually awarding the tournament to a tiny nation unprepared to deliver on its promises and with a labor force that's one giant human rights violation? Happens to the best of us.
But Blatter was at pains to clarify he wasn't regretting any of that. No, in calling the Qatar bid a mistake, he was only referring to the heat.
"The Qatar technical report indicated clearly that it is too hot in summer, but the executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same that the tournament would be in Qatar," he added.
Asked whether the World Cup was likely to be held in the European winter, the 78-year-old replied: "It's probable, yes. In fact, it's more than probable."
With the average daily high temperature topping 100 from May to September, and those fully air-conditioned stadiums promised by the Qatar committee simply not happening, it would be uncomfortable and downright dangerous to hold the World Cup in the summer, when nearly all the world's top domestic leagues are on break. Instead, it'll be in the winter, when temperatures rarely get out of 70s. Good news for MLS players, I suppose.
Blatter added that Qatar's victory wasn't driven by bribery, but by totally anodyne business interests on the part of FIFA's major players. "We know full well that big French and German companies work in Qatar," he said.
Soon after Blatter's comments FIFA put out a statement to try and keep them from being taken out of context. (Too late!)
"As explained in his answer to the journalist, the president reiterated that the decision to organise the World Cup in summer was an 'error' based on the technical assessment report of the bid, which had highlighted the extremely hot temperatures in summer in Qatar. At no stage did he question Qatar as hosts of the 2022 Fifa World Cup."
And just in case you were wondering, Blatter said he intends to run for a fifth term as FIFA president next year.