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Blatter creates rift with winter 2022 World Cup idea

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA president Sepp Blatter tells CNN he now supports accurate goal line technology
  • Blatter also reveals that a winter World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022 is a real possibility
  • Blatter confirms that he will also 'push' Qatar on basic human rights issues
  • He also reveals that FIFA executive committee members vote "more with their heads"

(CNN) -- There are signs of a rift within the elite of world football over the timing of the 2022 World Cup after Sepp Blatter, the head of world football's governing body FIFA, said that it would be unfair for the finals in Qatar to be played in the heat of the region's summer season.

"If you ask me the percentage to play in their winter, it is definitely over 50%. It means this is more than just a probability to play in winter time," Blatter said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Pedro Pinto.

"It is for many reasons. For the spectacle of the tournament, for the football and also to protect the players and also the spectators."

Blatter's statement was in direct contrast to the opinion of Mohamed Bin Hammam -- the Doha-born FIFA Executive Committee member and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief who has been touted as an eventual replacement for Blatter.

Hammam told British broadcaster Sky News on Thursday that he disagreed with calls to move the tournament to a different time of year.

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"I'm really not very impressed by these opinions to ... change the time from July to January - it's actually premature, you know, it's people's opinions and they're just discussing it on no basis or no ground," he said.

"It's not up to one, two or three members of FIFA to talk about changing the time without getting the real stakeholders' opinions.

"I know that football in Europe has quite a history, it is quite a business involving a lot of financial, media, marketing - a lot of things," he said.

"It is unfair to these people that we talk about changing the calendar or the time without their full consultation and their full approval and their full agreement - I'm actually not happy to see that happening without the real stakeholders' part of this discussion."

However, Blatter maintained that a winter World Cup was a valid option despite the fact that it would coincide with the fixture list of most major domestic leagues in Europe.

"If you look at some of the big leagues in Europe, then some of them already have a winter break.

"Where there is a will, you can change the international calendar for that year. This is a possibility because there are still 11 years to go before that tournament."

If you ask me the percentage to play in their winter, it is definitely over 50%
--FIFA president Sepp Blatter

By moving the tournament to the cooler months of year the soccer competition, which traditionally has been one of the most watched events in television history, could also clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics.

However, despite endorsing proposals for Qatar to host the World Cup finals in the winter, Blatter revealed he was more concerned about the country's human rights issues and, in particular, the fact that homosexuality is illegal in the emirate.

Blatter continued: "If the principles of human rights will not be respected, then this could be a problem.

"We will push Qatar to make sure the World Cup will be played in such conditions that other World Cups have been played and that human rights are respected."

Last month Blatter caused controversy in a press conference when he advised homosexuals who were travelling to the tournament to "refrain from sexual activities", a statement he has since apologised for.

Have your say on Blatter's decisions

FIFA have come under sustained criticism in recent weeks, following the decision to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively, but Blatter maintains that the FIFA voting process is correct.

I think goal-line technology has a good chance to be accepted
--Sepp Blatter
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Blatter also confirmed that he would now be willing to give the green light to goal line technology in football.

The 74-year-old had previously resisted moves to introduce technology to football, but has now softened his approach following continued calls for match officials to be aided in the modern game.

"We have tested 17 different goal line systems and four or five of them will go to the International Board [the body that draws up the rules of the game] to have a further look at them," said Blatter.

"A proposed testing period will then take place with a selected number of companies, prior to the International Board's general meeting in Cardiff, Wales, on March 4-6, when the next steps of the process will be determined.

"If one of these systems is accurate and immediate and not too complicated, then I think goal-line technology has a good chance to be accepted," added Blatter.

Replying to the statistic that nine out of 10 CNN readers believed the voting process needed changing, Blatter asked for the CNN audience to help find a solution: "This 90% of people should give us a proposal of how to do it better.

"The FIFA congress decided that it must go to the Executive Committee and by a secret ballot. It is transparency according to Swiss law," he added.

"But you have a college of voters who vote more with their heart than they vote with their head."