The decision of awarding the rights to host the 2022 football World Cup to Qatar was “one of the most ludicrous decisions in the history of sport,” the former chairman of the Football Association (FA) has said.
Speaking to BBC Sport, David Bernstein criticised football governing body FIFA of tarnishing the credibility of the game and urged for reform.
His remarks followed a report last week by FIFA’s ethics committee that ruled out reopening the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup games in Russia and Qatar respectively.
The report, which looked into corruption allegations against the two countries, based its decision on investigations by Michael Garcia.
“The various incidents which might have occurred are not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole,” it said.
However, Bernstein lashed out against FIFA for selecting Qatar as a host country, saying the nation faced several challenges.
“The choosing of Qatar was clearly one of the most ludicrous decisions in the history of sport. You might as well have chosen Iceland in the winter. It was like an Alice in Wonderland sort of decision,” he said.
He also critiqued the idea of possibly shifting the tournament to the winter months, in order to avoid the extreme summer heat in Qatar.
“The attempt to change the timing is also absolutely wrong. It’s like a false prospectus; you put a bid in on one basis and then when you’ve won you change to another.
“There’s also a background of political, social and employment issues that keep emerging and I think there’s a danger that FIFA and football might be embarrassed by what emerges in the coming years.
“Qatar is clearly a totally unsuitable place to hold a World Cup,” he added.
Qatar has faced strong criticism since it won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup tournament in December 2010, beating rivals Australia, US, Japan and South Korea.
Apart from accusations of corruption, which it has strongly denied, the country has also come under international scrutiny for its alleged mistreatment of foreign workers.
However, Qatari officials have pledged to improve working conditions and the country has recently announced a slew of new measures to protect workers’ rights.