No FIFA Security Concerns over 2022 W’Cup Despite Middle East Tension

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FIFA has no security concerns over Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, despite heightened political tension and military action in the Middle East this month.

The British government has warned of “increased tensions in the region” following the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US strike in Iraq on January 3. Two days later, Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US and coalition troops.

But world football’s governing body remains fully committed to the first World Cup to be staged in the Middle East. “There is no reason to be concerned at this stage,” a FIFA spokesperson told Sky Sports News.

FIFA is in daily contact with World Cup organisers, which includes an assessment of safety and security, and it is not considering any proposal to change the host nation.

World Cup organisers maintain Qatar is “one of the safest countries in the world”.

A spokesperson for the Supreme Committee said: “Qatar will host a number of leading football teams this month including Bayern Munich, Zenit St Petersburg, PSV Eindhoven, and Ajax. Qatar hosts winter training camps every year as teams travel to Doha to experience the world-class training facilities on offer mild temperatures.

“This season’s winter training camp period comes after tens of thousands of fans from across the globe travelled 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.”

Since June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, and the land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has been closed. All flights between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are also suspended. Direct flights between the UK and Qatar aren’t affected.

FIFA officials reported no serious issues during the Club World Cup last month, where Liverpool beat Flamengo in the final.

“We are on the right path,” Hassan Al Thawadi, general secretary of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, told Sky Sports News.

“Hosting the Gulf Cup and the Club World Cup have been great educational milestones. We are hosting the Club World Cup [again], and another event in 2021. I believe, over the next three years, we will be ready to host the world in 2022.”