How plans for Qatar’s World Cup 2022 ‘went from bad to terrible’

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, then Emir of Qatar, left, and Sheika Mozah bint Nasser al-Misned hold the World Cup trophy after the announcement of Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament. (AP)

The 2022 World Cup is the centerpiece of a carefully crafted strategy to project Qatar on to the global stage via sport.

But now, a diplomatic row between Qatar and Arab states – namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – could impact its preparations.

The four countries and others severed ties with Qatar earlier this month, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.

Should the boycott of Qatar persist for years, which the UAE has said is possible,  the 2018 and 2022 tournaments could be impacted.

Qatar's national team are still involved in the qualifying competition for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and are bottom of their group with four points from seven games, with matches against South Korea, Syria, and China still to play.

There is a very remote chance they could still finish third in the group and qualify for a playoff match against the team that finishes third in the other Asian qualifying group, with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE among potential opponents.

FIFA said in an emailed statement to Reuters news agency that it was "in regular contact with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup."

"We have no further comments for the time being," it added.

Hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar had already been hit with a rift of obstacles, writes iNews’s Tim Wigmore that states how the situation has gone “from bad to terrible,”

“Qatar bid on the basis that they could hold the tournament in its traditional slot in the western summer months, in defiance of its 50-degree heat; the claim was soon exposed as hogwash, and the tournament moved to November and December instead.

“All the while, migrant workers have suffered horrendous treatment in constructing stadiums for the World Cup; contractors confiscating passports or subjecting workers to forced labour remains widespread, with worker welfare standards worth about as much as a Conservative Party manifesto pledge. The stink over Qatar being awarded the World Cup has never gone away.”

Now, with the boycott of Qatar closing many land, sea and air links to the Gulf state, Doha is in a race against time.

“It could imperil the country’s ability to construct the eight new stadiums it needs to host the World Cup. In the region of half the materials for the stadiums, and the wider infrastructure the country needs to host the tournament, comes by road. All of this comes through Saudi Arabia, the only country Qatar borders.

“In the short term, construction work is proceeding unabated, as Qatar had already imported the steel and concrete it needs for the next couple of months. But if the blockade continues it will probably be a big problem,” Wigmore wrote, citing David Roberts, the author of Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City State.

Roberts is quoted as saying: “It’s a mathematical question: how can you replace those imports with the Doha ports?”

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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