Fears mount over 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar

Qatar on Monday slammed the decisions of six nations to sever ties with it, saying they were ‘unjustified’ and aimed to put Doha under political ‘guardianship’.

The United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt and the Maldives announced they will be joining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and withdrawing their diplomatic staff from Qatar, over claims that the country supported Islamist groups, earlier on Monday.

The diplomatic broadside threatens the international prestige of Qatar, which is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It has for years presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region’s many disputes.

Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, FlyDubai and Saudi Arabian Airlines have suspended all flights to Qatar, after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain said they would cut all air, land and sea links with Qatar within 24 hours.

Egypt is expected to suspend air links with Qatar by Tuesday.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

‘The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims,’ the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the steps taken by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

‘The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its (Qatar’s) sovereignty as a state,’ Qatar added.

As organizers work to plan the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a FIFA spokesperson refused to comment when asked if the event would be moved.

‘FIFA is in regular contact with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup,’ the spokesperson said. ‘We have no further comments for the time being.’

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