LONDON – Playing the 2022 World Cup in the summer heat of Qatar is "not rational and reasonable," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in a newspaper interview.
Despite health concerns included in an official report before the vote, the FIFA executive committee opted for the tiny emirate's bid in 2010. Blatter repeatedly has refused to say whether he backed Qatar.
"Whether it's the right choice, that's up to the executive committee," Blatter said in an interview published Wednesday in the French newspaper L'Equipe. "The problem is knowing whether it can be played in June-July in Qatar."
Air-conditioned stadiums to beat expected temperatures of up to 122 degrees were a defining theme of Qatar's bid, but the cooling technology only resolves the problem in venues for players, fans and officials.
"The World Cup is more than just stadiums. It's an array of social and cultural activities around the competition," Blatter said. "It's not rational and reasonable to play in June-July."
Blatter said voters were influenced by the pressure to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time.
"There were interventions at different levels so that it would go to an Arab country," Blatter said. "Geopolitics did its work."
FIFA vice president Michel Platini, the head of Europe's governing body, said his vote for Qatar was not due to pressure from then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"Before the awarding of a World Cup or Olympic Games, there is a meeting with the politicians," Blatter said. "We had it here in Zurich. They influence the voters. England didn't get the 2018 World Cup and, ever since, there has been a Cold War with FIFA."