FIFA is convinced that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is not in danger. This is what Gianni Infantino, the organization’s president told the press Sunday morning saying that they are confident the games will not be affected by the crisis currently hitting the country.
The Gulf state is currently experiencing a diplomatic crisis after Saudi Arabia accused the country of being a state sponsor of terrorism. This led to several countries abruptly severing their ties with Qatar and imposing trade and travel bans which caused the country to go into a tailspin.
President Donald Trump verbally supported Saudi Arabia’s actions. However, Russia, Iran, and Turkey expressed their support for Qatar and called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
The geopolitical tension in the region has worried not just politicians but football fans as well. The country was chosen in 2010 to be the host of the 2022 World Cup by FIFA and has already begun several construction projects for the event.
Many are concerned that Qatar’s isolation could result in the country losing the privilege of hosting the World Cup altogether. However, football’s governing body expressed their confidence that Qatar will weather the crisis and that the games will continue as planned.
Swiss publication Le Nouvelliste reported that FIFA president Gianni Infantino is convinced that the World Cup is not threatened by the crisis. During an interview with the press, Infantino said he is certain that the region “will return to a standardized situation.”
“We are confronted with a diplomatic crisis, but on the other hand, I am confident… The World Cup is in 2022. In five years, of course, Small contribution, in any way whatsoever, to an improvement, I will not hesitate to offer my help. “
Infantino also assured football fans that he would keep an eye on the situation in Qatar saying that he is currently in contact with the highest authorities regarding the matter. However, he also made it clear that FIFA’s “essential role” is to deal with football and not geopolitics.
However, while FIFA sees a light at the end of the tunnel, the situations on the ground tell a troubling story. With the Saudi blockade cutting off most if not all trade to the country, vital supplies such as food will be difficult to replenish.
All of Qatar’s food imports come from its Gulf neighbors with domestic almost non-existent. Imports brought in from other countries also need to pass through the other Gulf States to reach Qatar. With imports unable to reach the country, residents are clamoring to hoard up vital supplies.
However, according to Reuters, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani claims they are not worried about a shortage and vows that Qatar will not surrender. Turkey has already pledged food and water supplies to be delivered to the country to go along with their troop deployments to their military base in the country.
Bloomberg News reports that for now, construction is still ongoing on Qatar’s World Cup projects. However, with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain blocking imports by land and sea respectively, it is only a matter of time until materials run out and construction to be put on hold.
The country’s finances could also put the project in jeopardy with the country’s petroleum exports vulnerable to attacks from the Saudi-dominated Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries. The Gulf States are also pressuring foreign companies not to do business with Qatar which could further decimate the country’s petroleum industry as supplies run out.
The country has already committed over $200 billion to hosting the world’s biggest sporting event. However, with its intended spectators now blocking construction materials and manpower though the transport ban the prospect of the country hosting the World Cup in the next five years seems grim.
Unless the diplomatic crisis is resolved soon, Qatar could find itself mired in an economic crisis. Should that happen, not even FIFA can do anything to salvage their hopes of hosting the 2022 World Cup.
[Featured Image by the Associated Press/AP Images]