(Reuters) - Awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar may well have been "a mistake", FIFA president Sepp Blatter said for the first time on Monday.

Staging the tournament in the Middle East has caused much controversy because if it is held over its traditional dates in the middle of the year, players will have to contend with searing 50 degrees Celsius heat.

Calls to move the World Cup to later in the year, during the European winter, have also been unpopular as it will cause major disruption to domestic league competitions in countries such as Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France.

Asked by insideworldfootball.com about awarding Qatar the tournament, Blatter said: "It may well be that we made a mistake at the time."

Blatter, who in May said it was "not rational" to play in Qatar in June and July, added: "On the other hand, you must also consider political and geo-political realities.

"The World Cup is FIFA's biggest, if not only, global event. Who are we, the Europeans, to demand that this event has to cater to the needs of 800 million Europeans above all?

"I think it is high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world any more, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in faraway places.

"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 hopes FIFA's executive committee will endorse his proposal to switch the tournament to the winter.

If such a move is rubber-stamped, the Swiss added: "The next steps will include a close look at the international calendar and to establish what consequences the change would have.

"We would naturally need to speak to and consult with all interested parties and stakeholders."

Qatar defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to win the right to host the tournament for the first time.

(Writing by Pritha Sarkar in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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