Qatar 2022 World Cup at ‘increasing risk’ of being staged elsewhere due to diplomatic crisis

Qatar’s place as hosts for the 2022 World Cup is in jeopardy following a new report that has delved into their suitability amid the ongoing political attention in the Middle East.

A study by management consultants Cornerstone Global evaluated the impact of the current diplomatic situation involving Qatar and its surrounding countries.

Obtained by the BBC, the report claims ‘tournament insiders and regional experts have both stated to us that it is far from certain Doha will actually host the tournament’.

Qatar is at 'increasing risk' of losing the right to host the 2022 World Cup, claims a new report

Saudi Arabia's stance is due to their beliefs that Qatar is destabilising the Middle East and supporting terrorism

This is a result of it warning construction companies that is it a ‘high-risk project’ to work on the infrastructure programme which is set to total $200bn in costs.

Cornestone Global’s report, Qatar in focus: Is the Fifa World Cup 2022 in danger?; advises clients to ‘to give them unique insights to the reality of doing business in complex and challenging environments’.

It also adds: ‘Western diplomats have privately stated they do not know whether or not the tournament will take place as planned.

‘The reasons for this are many and include open allegations of corruption – both in the bidding process and in the infrastructure development.

‘Qatar is under greater pressure regarding its hosting of the tournament… the current political crisis has seen – or at least raised the possibility of – a Qatari opposition movement emerging.

‘This means an increased risk for those working on, or seeking contracts for World Cup 2022 infrastructure… with a risk of non-payment and no realistic ability to enforce any legal contracts.

‘Given the current political situation… it is certainly possible that the tournament will not be held in Qatar.

‘Any cancellation of Qatar hosting the World Cup 2022 will likely be abrupt and will leave contractors involved in a precarious situation that may not be easily resolved.’

The report also states that costs have risen between ’20 and 25 per cent due to logistical reasons’.

In response to the report, which Cornestone says it was ‘professionally produced based on extensive research’; the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy have dismissed it ‘as transparent as it is laughable.’ They also maintain that there is ‘absolutely no risk’ to Qatar not staging the 2022 World Cup.

In statement to the BBC, they wrote: ‘In the context of the current political situation we question the motives of an organisation – which makes no secret of its affiliation to the countries blockading Qatar – of publishing a report based entirely on media reports and anonymous sources.

‘The intention to create doubt regarding the tournament, while attempting to cause resentment amongst Qatari citizens and anxiety amongst foreign businesses and residents, is as transparent as it is laughable.

‘Despite the ambitious title of this report, there is absolutely no risk to the future of the first World Cup in the Middle East.’

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH QATAR?

What’s the report saying?

That among local diplomats in the Middle East, there is not full confidence that Qatar will be able to deliver the World Cup. The report is prepared for infrastructure firms assessing the risks involved in working on preparations for the World Cup.

Why is there a risk the World Cup will be moved?

Diplomats believe the current crisis which has resulted in a blockade of the sovereign state could lead to the development of an opposition movement in the country, with no guarantees of continuity if the governance of the country changes.

How did the crisis develop?

Qatar is a gas-rich nation, sharing a huge oil field with Iran. However, its economic might has long caused fractious relations with some of its Gulf neighbours and things reached crisis point this summer. Five nations – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Yemen accused Qatar of supporting terrorism in June and broke off diplomatic ties.

What problems has this caused?

Saudi Arabia, Qatar’s only immediate neighbour, has closed its land border to the nation, leading to major logistical problems, involving food and movement of citizens. Egypt also closed its airspace to Qatari transportation. Infrastructure firms have been forced to source materials needed to build stadiums and other World Cup-related projects from countries outside of the blockade areas.

Will the World Cup really be transferred?

A number of controversial issues surround the World Cup, from the corruption alleged to have been involved in Qatar securing it, to the treatment of workers and its movement from summer to winter. However, it seems the biggest threat yet is the diplomatic crisis, both in terms of regional instability or a change in leadership of the tiny nation which could put hosting it under threat. The competition’s future in the country depends on how the crisis plays out.

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