Sepp Blatter slams European media over Qatar

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 27, 2013, 09:00 AM IST

Kuala Lumpur: FIFA boss Sepp Blatter condemned European media for "attacking" 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar Tuesday, days after slamming European countries and companies over the controversial tournament.

The veteran Swiss said media had been unfair to Qatar as he made an impassioned defence of the event to delegates at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards in Kuala Lumpur.

"It is not fair when the international media and especially European media are taking up the focus of an Arab country here in Asia, and attacking, criticising this country," Blatter said.

"We are defending it. We have taken the decision to play a World Cup in the Arab world and we have taken the decision to play in Qatar and we will go and play this... in 2022 in Qatar," he added, to loud applause at the gala dinner.

The comments come just a few days after the FIFA president accused France and Germany of pushing Qatar`s bid to host the World Cup to suit their "economic interests".

He also blamed European construction companies after Amnesty International said migrant workers at World Cup venues were being treated like "animals".

AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa agreed that media criticism of Qatar had been "too much" and he backed the Gulf nation to hold one of the most successful World Cups.

"I think what`s been said is too much because the decision has (already) been taken," said the Bahraini royal.

"And of course Qatar is part of Asia, and we will support the World Cup in Asia and in Qatar in every way that we can."

Shaikh Salman added: "I`m sure that when the time comes we`ll see success and the work that Qataris have done for this event.

"I think what they`ve been doing so far, by the look of all the infrastructure and the facilities that are going to be built for this occasion, I`m sure we`ll have one of the most successful World Cups ever."

Tiny, resource-rich Qatar has proved a contentious choice since being awarded World Cup hosting rights in 2010 following a bidding process tainted with corruption allegations.

Following strong and lengthy protests, Blatter has agreed to move the World Cup to the end of 2022 to avoid Qatar`s scorching summer months.

Rights groups called for a boycott of the World Cup over Amnesty`s report, which said workers suffered exploitation including non-payment of wages and hazardous conditions.

Blatter has called conditions for migrant workers "unacceptable". However, Qatar said the allegations were "exaggerated".