Qatar says World Cup plans continue ‘as normal’
DOHA: Qatar’s World Cup preparations continue “as normal” and organisers remain confident that stadium construction deadlines will be met, a source close to the 2022 tournament has told AFP.
Despite the country being at the centre of a diplomatic crisis which has seen Qatar cut off politically — and economically — from neighbouring Gulf countries, organisers were unworried, said the source.
“I think, for us, it’s business as usual, we have to continue as normal,” said the source.
“In any construction project there are plans B and C. There doesn’t seem to be any issue of getting materials in.
“I don’t think it is something we are worrying about too much.”
Since the crisis erupted a week ago, questions have been asked about Qatar’s readiness and suitability to host the 2022 tournament.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups, a claim vehemently denied by Doha.
As a result, these countries and allies have severed transport links to Qatar, closing its only land border, airspace and denying it to transport cargo via the UAE.
The isolation of Qatar — labelled a “blockade” by Doha political leaders — also has potentially severe economic implications.
The closure of the border, which Qatar shares with Saudi, is seen as particularly significant, threatening the import of materials needed by Qatar to complete its $200 billion worth of infrastructure projects in readiness for 2022.
Earlier this year, Qatar revealed it is spending almost $500m every week for football’s biggest tournament.
The crisis has also raised major concerns of yet further instability in the Middle East
Another implication is that Qatar has promoted 2022 as a regional World Cup, to bring together fans across the Middle East.
But it appears that some in the region are not that happy with Qatar hosting, with hashtags appearing on social media such as “UAE will host the World Cup” in the last few days.
Qatar though has received the support of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who said on Sunday that the emirate would remain as 2022 hosts, and that football’s governing body does “not interfere in geopolitics”.