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Blatter affirms support for Qatar

18 December 2011 00:02

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has reaffirmed his strong support for 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar after a scandal-laden year.

Australia football boss Frank Lowy suggested recently Qatar could be stripped of its hosting rights following allegations of corruption within world football's governing body.

But Blatter again staunchly defended the choice of surprise winners Qatar for the 2022 World Cup and dismissed the criticism.

"The 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar and I don't know who can change this decision," said Blatter, responding to Lowy's remarks.

"I personally will intervene if FIFA executive members continue with such declarations (accusations). I understand about the incident in Australia but the case is closed now."

"The World Cup shall be accessible to all cultures and it was time … to bring it to the Arab world."

UEFA president Michel Platini has also weighed into the debate, suggesting a summer World Cup in Qatar is unfeasible because of extreme heat.

Blatter admitted he had 'regrets' about some decisions made this year by a governing body that seemed to spiral from one crisis to another.

The Swiss was elected for a fourth term in June unopposed after then Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam was sacked for his cash-for-votes scandal.

He then made more headlines in November when he suggested incidents of racist abuse should be settled with a handshake after the game, a comment he later insisted was misunderstood.

Asked about the decision to award the 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar) World Cup winners simultaneously, Blatter admitted FIFA may have got it wrong.

"This is a justified question after a year of ups and downs," Blatter said.

"It was not the best and most intelligent decision of FIFA to announce the two World Cup winners simultaneously. It was wrong and it caused a lot of disturbances earlier this year."

Concerns have been raised about Brazil being behind schedule for the 2014 tournament, but Blatter said he remains confident the country will be ready.

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