Sunday, April 21, 2019 | ePaper

FIFA Qatar 2022 plan would 'exacerbate' Gulf tensions

  • Print





FIFA President Gianni Infantino's plan to expand the Qatar World Cup to 48 teams and increase the number of host countries risks worsening existing Gulf diplomatic tensions, claim analysts.
The ambitious expansion proposal -- which Infantino has optimistically stated might help Middle East peace -- could see the extra matches hosted in Kuwait and Oman in 2022.
But far from making a politically turbulent region more harmonious, analysts say FIFA's proposal could deepen regional fissures and leave Kuwait and Oman, as well as Qatar, open to further political arm-twisting from the regional power bloc of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
"There is a very real risk that expanding the World Cup to include Kuwait and Oman would make these two countries vulnerable to the same sort of regional pressure Qatar has faced since 2017," said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at Rice University.
"Particularly since Kuwait and Oman also have followed their own approaches to regional affairs."
It could also foster resentment in those countries missing out on games, notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Ulrichsen added. "The idea of a regional World Cup that includes Kuwait and Oman but not Saudi Arabia or the UAE would likely be a cause of considerable bitterness in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi."
Since June 2017, World Cup host Qatar has been blockaded by the Saudi-led countries in a bitter political spat, one of the worst Gulf diplomatic conflicts for years.
Saudi Arabia and its allies, which also include Egypt, accuse Qatar of promoting terrorism and being too close to Riyadh's great political and religious rival, Tehran.
Qatar denies its rivals' allegations and accuses them of seeking regime change in Doha.
For 21 months -- and counting -- Saudi Arabia and it allies have imposed a political, economic and travel boycott around Qatar which shows few signs of easing.

More News For this Category

AC Milan fined 86,000 euros for Kessie, Bakayoko shirt prank

AC Milan fined 86,000 euros for Kessie, Bakayoko shirt prank

Agency :AC Milan and the Serie A club's players Tiemoue Bakayoko and Franck Kessie have been fined a total of 86,000 euros ($97,000) for holding up Lazio defender Francesco

Hamilton helps Toronto FC rally to beat Minnesota United

Hamilton helps Toronto FC rally to beat Minnesota United

AP, Toronto :Substitute Jordan Hamilton scored in the 77th and 79th minutes to give Toronto FC a 4-3 comeback victory over Minnesota United on Friday night.Hamilton converted a pass

Neymar near comebacks as stuttering PSG try to wrap up title

Neymar near comebacks as stuttering PSG try to wrap up title

Agency :It has turned into something of an epic limp towards the finish line, but Paris Saint-Germain will hope to finally secure another Ligue 1 title when they play

Depay helps Lyon end winless streak

Depay helps Lyon end winless streak

Agency :Memphis Depay helped Lyon defeat Angers 2-1 in Ligue 1 on Friday to end a three match winless run and maintain their push for Champions League football next

Euro run helping Arsenal's top four bid, says Maitland-Niles

Euro run helping Arsenal's top four bid, says Maitland-Niles

AFP, London :Ainsley Maitland-Niles believes Arsenal's run to the Europa League semi-finals will aid their Premier League top four push against Crystal Palace on Sunday.Unai Emery's side advanced to

Solskjaer eyes strong finish as Everton lie in wait

Solskjaer eyes strong finish as Everton lie in wait

AFP, Manchester :Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has five games left in the Premier League season to prove conclusively that the club's hierarchy did not act too hastily in making him

Aim to make tournament memorable: Coach Choton

Aim to make tournament memorable: Coach Choton

BSS, Dhaka :Bangladesh U-19 women's football team coach Golam Rabbani Choton said his team want to make the tournament, named after Bangamata, a memorable putting on their best efforts.He

Juve look to bury Champions League misery with another Serie A crown

Juve look to bury Champions League misery with another Serie A crown

Juventus turn the page on yet another Champions League disappointment as they focus on sealing an eighth consecutive Serie A title at home on Saturday.Massimiliano Allegri's side host Fiorentina needing

Chelsea survive fright night to reach Europa League semi-finals

Chelsea survive fright night to reach Europa League semi-finals

Chelsea were given a fright by Slavia Prague in a 4-3 home win on Thursday that saw them to a 5-3 aggregate victory and a place in the semi-finals of

Arsenal dump out Ancelotti's Napoli to reach Europa League semis

Arsenal dump out Ancelotti's Napoli to reach Europa League semis

Alexandre Lacazette scored the only goal as Arsenal dispatched Napoli 1-0 on Thursday to advance to the Europa League semi-finals 3-0 on aggregate.Lacazette's stunning 36th-minute free-kick put the English club