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Qatar right venue for 2022 World Cup insists Blatter

FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses the media after meeting the presidents of the soccer federations of Israel and Palestine at the FIFA h
FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses the media after meeting the presidents of the soccer federations of Israel and Palestine at the FIFA h

By Ossian Shine

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter rejected on Tuesday media reports claiming he thought it may have been a mistake to choose Qatar as hosts for the 2022 World Cup.

"No, it was not a mistake because by the rotation it was time to go to the Arabic world," Blatter told Reuters on the sidelines of an International Olympic Committee meeting in the Argentina capital.

"And now here we are in the Arab world. It is not a very big country, but it is a very important one. So the decision was absolutely in the context of the politics of FIFA and especially in the context of the politics of this president."

Blatter said the decision to play the tournament in the middle of the year was the mistake, not the selection of Qatar as hosts.

"I am of the opinion, and this will be discussed by the (FIFA) Executive Board, now that to play in summer time in Qatar is not the right thing to do," he said.

"We can play also in winter time and this is also a question of solidarity. If you never play in winter time the World Cup, you will be in the situation where all the countries around the equator and southern hemisphere... can never play in the winter.

"(Football) is a sport that is played not only in Europe but all around the world."

Staging the tournament in the Middle East has sparked widespread consternation because, if it is held over its traditional dates in the middle of the year, players will have to contend with 50 degrees Celsius heat.

Calls to move the World Cup to later in the year, during the European winter, have also proved unpopular as it would disrupt domestic league competitions in countries such as Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France.

Also on Tuesday, European soccer clubs said they wanted to be involved in discussions over any possible switch of dates.

The European Clubs Association (ECA), which has more than 200 members, said it wanted to be consulted before any decision was made.

Another organization, representing the European leagues, set out obstacles to the move as it also urged FIFA not to rush a decision.

"I personally believe there is no hurry and I don't understand why FIFA would like to make an early decision at the next executive committee meeting in October," ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told a news conference.

"I think that nine years is more than enough to do this very sensibly and prudently, in the best interests of football.

"We have to be very sensible to find the best solution which will be accepted by all stakeholders in the football family, because it affects our business," added the former West Germany, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan forward, who is also Bayern Munich chairman.

"If there is a change, the clubs, the leagues, the associations and the players have the right to be heard and to discuss the best solution with FIFA concerning a change for the World Cup."

English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has argued that a winter World Cup could disrupt the European soccer calendar for up to three seasons because of the knock-on effects of having to stop and start a campaign.

(Additional reporting by Vincent Fribault in Buenos Aires, Brian Homewood in Geneva, and Keith Weir in London; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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