Qatar will not be stripped of the 2022 World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has told Sport Bild.
At the weekend, a high-ranking FIFA employee was quoted as telling Die Welt that the tournament could be taken away from the Gulf state, with a decision to be made during an executive meeting later this year.
“That would allow enough time for the tournament to be reassigned,” he said.
The employee, who was not named, gave four reasons for a possible reassignment of the World Cup -- the conditions for those working on construction sites in Qatar, the disruption to domestic leagues, a possible clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics and potential corruption in the voting process for the staging of the tournament.
However, Blatter has dismissed the claims, insisting that FIFA has every faith in Qatar to stage a successful World Cup.
“The decision [for Qatar] will not be challenged,” he said. “We are convinced that the working conditions in Qatar will rapidly improve. The discussion alone shows how important football can be to raise awareness and, through that, also ignite sustainable changes.”
Blatter went on to explain that others aside from FIFA also deserve credit for the gradual improvement of the working conditions for migrant employees in Qatar.
“We shall not forget that big European companies have invested in Qatar, and they also have a responsibility for humane working conditions,” he said.
The FIFA chief, who could run for a fifth term in 2015, also feels that the bidding process for the World Cup -- and the Olympic Games -- will always remain political.
“The Olympic Games and the World Cup are the two most important sport events worldwide, and to that effect there is interest for the events and thus also the indirect influence from governments during the bidding process,” he said.
Blatter added that it was “striking” that “especially from Germany and from German politicians” criticism of Qatar could be heard, while at the same time “Germany has several business ties with Qatar.”
In recent years, Qatar has also become a destination for Bundesliga clubs, such Schalke and Bayern Munich, during their winter break.
Last week, the former German Football Federation president Theo Zwanziger, now a member of the FIFA executive, said that such clubs “should not just disregard the conditions” in Qatar and added “who looks away here become an accessory.”
When asked whether criticism of FIFA and Qatar by clubs like Bayern is “hypocritical,” Blatter replied: “Quod licet Juvi, non licet bovi. What Jupiter is allowed to do, the ox is not allowed. Maybe, here, it is the other way round.”
Unaware of Blatter’s comments, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge brushed aside Zwanziger’s accusations in an interview with Muenchener Merkur.
“I no longer attach any importance to Theo Zwanziger,” Rummenigge said. “His accusation does not even irritate me, because it was not FC Bayern’s decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar.
“That’s a thing for the associations. We can’t impose as the ones who iron out FIFA's problems. Even the big FC Bayern is too small in the football world.”