Qatar, Russia World Cups not about money: Blatter
FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted Monday that the votes to award World Cups to Russia and Qatar were based on developing soccer and had nothing to do with money.
He also noted that the world's biggest soccer tournament will have to adjust to more than just the sweltering desert heat when the 2022 event goes to the Middle East.
Blatter said that homosexual fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" that are illegal in Qatar.
Drinking alcohol in Qatar is also restricted, a possible problem for the party like atmosphere that usually surrounds the tournament. But Blatter hopes there will be an "opening" of the Islamic culture for the 2022 World Cup.
"It's another culture and another religion, but in football we have no boundaries," Blatter said from Johannesburg's Soccer City for the official closing of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. "We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings, being on this side or that side, left or right or whatever.
"Football is a game that does not affect any discrimination. You may be assured … if people want to watch a match in Qatar in 2022, they will be admitted to matches."
Having praised South Africa's tournament as an example of the success a first-time host can achieve, Blatter added he thought there was "too much concern" for the World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA has been criticized for choosing Russia and Qatar over more traditional soccer countries during a Dec. 2 vote that took place without two members of the executive committee who were suspended for allegedly agreeing to take money for their support.
In his first public address since the vote, Blatter defended FIFA's choices.
"We go to Eastern Europe, to Russia where the World Cup has never been. And later on, we go to the Middle East, we go to the Arabic world, we go to the Islamic world," Blatter said.
"This is the development of football and don't speak about money. This has nothing to do with money, as it had nothing to do with money here in Africa. It has to do with the development of the game," he said, pounding the podium with his fist for emphasis.
Blatter also announced a $100 million US legacy fund for South Africa. He said $20 million had already been used to build a new South African Football Association headquarters and for part of the organizing of the competition, but promised the remainder would go to "social and community projects."
FIFA earned an estimated $3.5 billion from this year's World Cup.
South Africa President Jacob Zuma, who had met with Blatter at Soccer City earlier Monday, said he hoped the first World Cup in Africa would act as a catalyst for development in the country.
"We are officially closing one of the major highlights and success stories of the year," Zuma said. "We hosted a memorable World Cup."
Blatter said he was proud of the South African tournament.
"FIFA's World Cup is not a circus, coming into a country, putting up some tents and when the performance is over, taking everything with and perhaps some more and going home," he said. "No, FIFA's World Cup is more than that."