Qatar has urged the four countries engaged in the ongoing Saudi-led diplomatic and trade boycott against the energy-rich Persian Gulf kingdom to allow their nationals to attend the 2022 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Doha.
“We separate politics from sports. We hope that the blockading nations see reason in this matter and allow for their people to be able to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity,” Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general at Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, told reporters in Doha.
The committee is responsible for planning and operations for the quadrennial international men’s football championship contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA.
Thawadi said Doha has had to find new suppliers of construction materials for its World Cup projects ever since Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt imposed a blockade, stressing that efforts at building sports facilities and infrastructure for the tournament remain on track.
“Our plans are put in place, alternative supply chains are put in place and the projects are continuing on schedule and on cost,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”
The administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry later announced that the decisions to cut diplomatic ties were unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
On June 9, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.
“The recent joint statement issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a ‘terror finance watch list’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact,” the Qatari government said in a statement.
On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.
The document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.