Paris - FIFA president Sepp Blatter defended his support of switching the 2022 World Cup to winter in Qatar, saying in an interview published on Monday that rescheduling reflected the sport's worldwide appeal.
Blatter told Inside World Football that members of the federation who have complained about the proposed change in dates should have been well aware of the possibility, as it was contained in the bidding process documents.
"The loudest critics, the ones who should know better because they signed the exact same bidding documents as Qatar did... must know that point 1.2.1 stipulates that the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup is 'scheduled to take place' in June and/or July 'in principle'," he was quoted as saying on insideworldfootball.com.
"It does not say that it 'must' take place in these months, nor is it a 'condition sine qua non' to host the World Cup in June and July. What the document does is express FIFA's wish to host the World Cup in June or July."
European countries, in particular England, have cried foul at the possibility of holding the world's most-watched sporting event in January and February because Qatar initially bid to host the tournament in the June-July close season in Europe and changing the dates would disrupt their domestic leagues.
Temperatures in Qatar can reach a blistering 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) but cool to the mid-20s in December.
Blatter accepted that, despite knowing that technology was available to cool venues, playing in Qatar's summer was "simply not a responsible thing to do".
But he said there needed to be flexibility to ensure that as many countries as possible have the chance to host the tournament, rather than it being organised to suit European nations.
"If we maintain, rigidly, the status quo, then a FIFA World Cup can never be played in countries that are south of the equator or indeed near the equator," he added.
"We automatically discriminate against countries that have different seasons than we do in Europe and we make it impossible for all those who would love to host the world's biggest game in a global tournament to ever get the chance to do so."
He went on: "I think it is high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world anymore and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in far away places and we must accept that football has moved away from being a European and South American sport.
"It has become the world sport that billions of fans are excitedly following every week, everywhere in the world."
Blatter said he would raise the issue at FIFA's next executive committee meeting on October 3-4 before consulting more widely on the impact of rescheduling on the international calendar.