Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake,” the BBC reports.
Blatter, 86, was president of world football’s governing body when Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010.
The Gulf state has been criticised for its stance on same-sex relationships, human rights record and treatment of migrant workers.
Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman has said that homosexuality is “damage in the mind”.
The former Qatar international told German broadcaster ZDF that LGBTQ+ people attending the tournament should “accept our rules”.
There is concern about how LGBTQ+ people are treated in Qatar, where same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalised, with punishments ranging from fines to the death sentence.
Blatter said Qatar is “too small of a country” to host the tournament.
“Football and the World Cup are too big for it,” he told Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger.
The Qatar World Cup, the first to be hosted in the Middle East in the tournament’s 92-year-history and the first during the Northern Hemisphere winter, takes place from 20 November to 18 December.
Fifa’s executive committee voted 14-8 for Qatar to host the tournament ahead of the United States 12 years ago, at the same time Russia was awarded the 2018 event.