FIFA is facing international pressure to make a decision on the future of the 2022 World Cup, due to be held in Qatar, in the wake of the small emirate being placed in a state of diplomatic isolation by its neighbours in the Gulf peninsula and the Middle East.
The prospect of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup is now in serious doubt after the country’s neighbours severed diplomatic relations and blockaded its borders, according to the FIFA media channel.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen have announced that they are severing their relations with Qatar, withdrawing their ambassadors and closing their airspace and sea ports to any Qatari transports.
Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have closed the only land route into the tiny peninsula and refused to allow use of their sea ports or airspace.
The border with Saudi Arabia is the only road route into the country; Qatar relies on sea ports for various supplies and the airspace blockade is a huge logistical handicap for the country and its flagship airline, Qatar Airways, a major FIFA sponsor.
The German FA (DFB) president, Reinhard Grindel, said he would discuss the issue with the German government and the European Football Federation (UEFA). Grindel promised to look for a “political solution” but said: “The football community worldwide should agree that … major tournaments should not be played in countries that actively support terror.”
FIFA faces another problem represented in its sponsorship contract with Qatar Airways, which is currently facing a logistical nightmare with the closure of the air space of several influential countries. The world sports website ESPN said the World Cup would be at stake if Qatar’s relations with its neighbours did not improve.
This crisis will affect Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup and Qatari sport is in danger, as the period before the World Cup is set to host a lot of important sporting events.