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FIFA president Sepp Blatter has rejected the possibility that Qatar could co-host the 2022 World Cup with neighbouring countries and has stated that the tournament will not be held in January-February out of respect to the “Olympic family.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has rejected the possibility that Qatar could co-host the 2022 World Cup with neighbouring countries and has stated that the tournament will not be held in January-February out of respect to the “Olympic family.”

The topic of Qatar potentially sharing the World Cup with other Gulf countries came up on Friday ahead of Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the Under-17 World Cup final when Blatter was quoted as saying it could be a possibility. “This is a question I keep a big question mark behind,” he said, according to the Sport360 newspaper. “I passed through Iran and even on a political level they said they would be happy to host some of the matches. Not only the Gulf states, but also Iran. This is a matter for UAE as well, they are very eager. But we need to take this step by step. We have up until 2022 to make a decision, nine years.” However, following a meeting with the managing director of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Blatter on Saturday discounted this prospect. “The decision of the FIFA is to play in one country and that will be in Qatar,” he said, according to Reuters. “I was just touring a little bit here, I was in Iran and I was in United Arab Emirates and it came up, the question came up, ‘Can we share the World Cup with Qatar?’ I just took the questions, but I did not answer. I just want to tell you that when we took the decision for the World Cup 2002 when we played in two countries with difficulties, it was (South) Korea and Japan. We have decided to never go in two countries, even less so to three, if one country is able to do so (stage the tournament).”

FIFA last month elected to delay the decision on whether to switch Qatar’s 2022 World Cup to a winter tournament and has launched a consultation process to determine the most appropriate time of year to stage the event. Earlier this month, the International Ski Federation (FIS) upped the ante in the debate by calling on all winter sports governing bodies to unite in opposition to the tournament being moved to a winter calendar slot. The FIS is concerned that such a move from FIFA will result in a damaging effect for winter sports’ through viewers and commercial partners being diverted to the Qatari tournament. Following the comments of the FIS, the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) also expressed its concerns at the prospect of a November World Cup – the preferred choice of Blatter. Commenting on the timing dilemma for the 2022 World Cup, Blatter said: “In January, February, these are the Olympic Winter Games. It’s out of the respect to the Olympic organisation, the Olympic family…secondly, we have together with the Olympics, the IOC, practically the same media, television and marketing partners and we cannot have two competitions in the same time. It is logical to play this competition at the end of the year. At the end of the year, it will be November-December. I don’t know exactly the dates, but could be from 10th to 10th.”

Blatter’s meeting with Sheikh Mohammed also addressed the concerns over alleged human rights issues for migrant workers in Qatar, as the country engages in major infrastructure development ahead of the World Cup. “The state of Qatar is aware of some problems,” said Blatter. “They have already started to react. We went to the Supreme Committee building and we listened to a presentation. What was presented to us shows that they are going forward not only today but have already started months ago with the problems with labour and workers. The labour laws will be amended and are already in the process of being amended. Special attention will be paid to the different inspections that are necessary, the government inspectors will receive more powers to enforce the labour legislation and there will be accommodation for all the workers. Actually, accommodation is built for workers with room for 60,000 to be opened this December.” He added: “The World Cup is in nine years but the problems have to be tackled now. We are not responsible for the laws but we are happy to see that the laws will be amended.”

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