Sepp Blatter seems to have flip-flopped his opinion when it’s suited
Rewind to December 2nd, Zurich. England have just been dealt an embarrassing blow, having been knocked out in the first round of World Cup hosting voting. But more importantly, Qatar have been handed the right to host the 2022 tournament in an announcement which shook football.
Since then, there has been much discussion about when, or if, the tournament should be played in the Middle Eastern country because conditions in Qatar during the traditional summer hosting period would be far too hot to safely play any sport to the level which we have come to expect. That said, upon awarding the 2022 showpiece tournament, Sepp Blatter himself made it clear it was on the basis of hosting in summer.
He said, “The basic conditions – not just for Qatar but for all the candidates – were the same. It means the Fifa World Cup is played in June and July.”
There it is then, the president of FIFA says it should be in June and July so that will be so. But that would have been far too simple and transparent of the world football governing body…
In the following four years and three months, we have seen the organisation give plenty of differing statements from different high profiles dignitaries.
This manifested itself in the same Sepp Blatter who said the above quote, took a 180 degree u-turn in his stance in September 2013, “After many discussions, deliberations and critical review of the entire matter, I came to the conclusion that playing the World Cup in the heat of Qatar’s summer was simply not a responsible thing to do.”
It would seem, from that, that any other conclusion from the task force, which had been set up to consider the best options with regards Qatar’s searing summer heat, would not suggest anything other than a winter World Cup.
And so, it was announced yesterday their recommendation was that it would be best for the tournament to begin in late November and continue through to just before Christmas.
The world governing body of football and Sepp Blatter – as usual – making the rules up as they go along to fit their needs.
Of course, there is an argument that Qatar should have as much right as any other country, established in football or not, to host a World Cup and that the European powers should not be able to stand in their way. Fair enough, but this is not the issue at hand.
The issue at hand is that the head of FIFA, and the body itself, seem to be willing to implement seismic shifts in the biggest event in world sport, to simply cover up the fact that they have made a huge mistake in firstly awarding them the tournament and secondly in the entire bidding process.
Following the announcement, secretary of the football body, Jerome Valcke, has offered no apology for the decision, which will almost certainly wreak havoc in almost every European football calendar.
He said, “I don’t feel that I have to apologise for the decision that has been made yesterday.”
The upheaval will be even bigger for the English football calendar with their complement of Christmas fixtures likely to be decimated if the competition will have the December 23rd final, suggested by UEFA.
There’s no argument: world football has been made a laughing stock by a governing body so unwilling to admit their own mistakes they are willing to uproot their most established and prestigious leagues to satisfy something previously agreed. This when key figures have previously contradicted themselves hugely with regards the tournament.
One thing every football fan can be certain of, football will never be the same again following this announcement.