In response to "continuing controversy" over whether the 2022 World Cup should be staged in the European summer as planned, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that the organization "has not lost control over the 2022 World Cup," according to REUTERS. Blatter reiterated that "any request to change the timing of the event to cooler months would have to come from the organisers themselves." He "could not predict whether such a request would lead to a legal challenge from any of the countries who lost out to Qatar in the vote held in December 2010." Blatter: "Concerning the 2022 World Cup, discussions started at the time when the decision was taken and then people have realised that when playing summer will be difficult because it is very hot. But the basic principles of the award of the World Cup were very clear and have not changed in the meantime. Blatter added that he "could not predict what would happen if Qatar asked for a change." Blatter: "I have put a question mark and that's all, but I'm not a prophet to say what will happen. Let us be where we are and let us work on the World Cup 2014, there is enough to do for that competition, and then 2018 and then 2022" (REUTERS, 3/22).
VOTING CHANGES: GOAL's Tom Maston reported Blatter revealed that "changes will be made to the voting process for World Cup hosting rights." The awarding of the '18 and '22 tournaments to Russia and Qatar, respectively, "saw the governing body criticised heavily," and Blatter admitted that the presence of politicians "influenced the decisions." Blatter: "The selection of a country to host the World Cup or the Olympics is something that inevitably is of great interest to the governments of the candidate nations." He continued, "Future World Cups will no longer be decided by a vote of the 25 members of the Executive Committee, but will be chosen by the 209 presidents of each FIFA federation. The Executive Committee will serve only to create a final shortlist of a maximum of three candidates to host the competition. [Choosing two hosts at once] was a mistake. Two World Cup hosts will never again be chosen in one day. That was an error from a political point of view, although in terms of marketing and television it wasn't" (GOAL, 3/21).
BACK AND FORTH: THE NATIONAL's Ali Khaled reported as the 2022 World Cup saga drags on, Qatar and FIFA "are now engaged in a staring contest. Who will blink first?" In the last few days, Qatar has "insisted it would be willing to hold the World Cup either in the summer or winter." A Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee statement read, "Concerning the timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have always reiterated that we bid on the parameters that we would host in the summer of 2022." However, the questions of the summer heat "have refused to go away." UEFA President Michel Platini, in particular, has "voiced a preference for moving the tournament to the winter months." If Qatar was "expecting some guidance" from FIFA one way or the other, "it will have been disappointed" (THE NATIONAL, 3/23).