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Qatar’s 2022 World Cup not under threat, Fifa president

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Fifa chief Gianni Infantino Reuters

The Saudi-led diplomatic campaign against Qatar should not be a threat to the Gulf state hosting of the 2022 World Cup, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said Sunday. He told Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche that he expects the diplomatic situation to return to normal by the time the tournament is played.

 


Qatar currently finds itself in diplomatic isolation by fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

They accuse Doha of interfering in their internal affairs and supporting groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and even Al Qaeda and the Al Nusra Front.

Asked if he believed that Qatar's hosting was in danger, Infantino replied "No,” but added that he did not want to speculate.

The Fifa head said that his organisation is “watching the situation” and that they are “in regular contact with the Qatari authorities”.

"The essential role of Fifa, as I understand it, is to deal with football and not to interfere in geopolitics," he said.

Qatari referee removed

But sports exchanges between Qatar and its fellow GCC member countries are at present hampered by the crisis.

On Saturday Fifa said it agreed to a request from the UAE for a Qatari to be removed as referee at a World Cup qualifier.

A referee from Singapore will be brought in for the UAE’s match against Thailand in Bangkok on 13 June. He will be assisted by a fellow Singaporean and two officials from Malaysia.

However, Fifa denied that the replacement was made as a result of the diplomatic spat, saying in a statement to The Associated Press that “the decision has been taken for sporting reasons and in view of the current geopolitical situation.”

Qatar will host the soccer World Cup between the 21 November and 18 December 2022 and is scheduled to organise multiple events covering a variety of sports in the period leading up to the tournament.

This year it is organising 72 events, of which 39 international competitions.
It has already hosted the 10th Artistic Gymnastics World Cup and an IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting, and a Fina Swimming World Cup is scheduled for September.