Fears over 2022 World Cup in Qatar as tensions rise in wake of Qasem Soleimani killing – The Sun

Fears over 2022 World Cup in Qatar as tensions rise in wake of Qasem Soleimani killing – The Sun

January 5, 2020

FEARS over the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have grown after a weekend of threats between Iran and the USA.

The killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a Baghdad drone strike sparked a war of words between Tehran and Washington.

But the threat to the stability of the Gulf region ahead of the world’s footballing showpiece in 2022 has also raised concerns.

Qatar is Iran’s only major ally in the region, a stance which has put the country at odds with the majority of its neighbours.

Fifa had been hoping that the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, which had closed the country’s borders and ended direct flights from neighbouring states, might be lifted ahead of the inaugural Club World Cup next year and the World Cup in 2022.

But any increase in tensions is likely to reinforce existing issues between the Gulf states and make the easing of relationships less likely.

That in turn will prevent the realistic possibility of travelling fans basing themselves in other countries and making the short hop into Doha.


The US men’s team has cancelled plans for a training camp in Qatar this month, although both Bayern Munich and Ajax are currently in the country and have no plans to cut their trips short.

Fifa, which has been immersed in controversy since Qatar was controversially awarded the World Cup in the December 2010 vote which has long been the subject of corruption allegations, is reluctant to talk up problems at this stage.

A senior Fifa insider told SunSport that it was “premature” for the world governing body to make any comments at this stage, especially with the World Cup not kicking off until November 2022, nearly three years away.

Last month’s club world cup passed off without incident but that was before the latest incident.

Major European clubs – Liverpool and Chelsea are currently due to take part after last season’s respective Champions League and Europa League triumphs – may be reluctant to travel to the region in summer 2021 if there are ongoing concerns.

That would also be the case when it comes to letting players travel to a World Cup in a potential powderkeg area, even though Qatar points out it has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s safest nations.

The FA would await Foreign Office advice nearer the time although Britons have been warned this weekend not to travel to either Iran or Iraq unnecessarily.

In 2002, nine months after the September 11 attacks on New York, the USA and England teams were guarded by elite military units in Korea and Japan over fears they could be the subject of terrorist attacks.

"Qatar hosts winter training camps every year as teams travel to Doha to experience the world class training facilities on offer and mild temperatures.

“This season’s winter training camp period comes after tens of thousands of fans from across the globe traveled to Doha last month for a safe and successful FIFA Club World Cup and Arabian Gulf Cup.

“Qatar remains one of the safest countries in the region and the world; with just under three years to go until the FIFA World Cup 2022 kicks off we will continue to welcome fans and teams to Qatar."

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