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Blatter says Europe 'unfair' to attack Qatar World Cup

AFP

Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, on Tuesday told an audience in Kuala Lumpur that it was unfair of European media to criticise the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, "an Arab country here in Asia."

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Kuala Lumpur

Sepp Blatter, the head of the governing body of world football, on Tuesday criticised European media for "attacking" 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar a few days after slamming European countries and companies over the controversial tournament.

Blatter, the FIFA president, made an impassioned defence of the event at the Asian Football Confederation awards in Kuala Lumpur. He said media had been unfair to Qatar.

"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 Arabic 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.

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.

The comments come just a few days after Blatter said Europeans should take the blame for any mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar. He said France and Germany had pushed 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".

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".

In October, Blatter agreed to set up a taskforce to investigate whether the World Cup could be moved to a cooler time of year to avoid Qatar's scorching summer months.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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