Was the Gulf Crisis Engineered to Stop Qatar Hosting the World Cup?

Published October 9th, 2017 - 02:22 GMT
“If Qatar no longer hosts the World Cup, the crisis will leave Qatar... because the crisis was created to end it” (Flickr)
“If Qatar no longer hosts the World Cup, the crisis will leave Qatar... because the crisis was created to end it” (Flickr)
  • A top Emirati official has hinted in a tweet that the Gulf crisis could end if Qatar agrees not to host the 2022 world cup
  • The comments come as the Gulf state’s hosting of the tournament is increasingly coming under pressure
  • A recent report predicted its abrupt cancellation
  • Saudis have flooded Twitter with messages calling for the World Cup’s withdrawal from Doha


The Gulf crisis was intended to prevent Qatar hosting the 2020 world cup, Dubai’s security chief has suggested.

Dhahi Khalfan, a key figure in the Emirates, tweeted on Monday:

His tweet appeared to imply that the blockade imposed by Doha’s neighbors would be lifted if it dropped plans to host the tournament.

Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and placed a trade embargo on their neighbor in June, accusing Qatar of funding terror.

Khalfan’s tweet comes as reports suggest an “abrupt” cancellation of Doha as hosts is on the horizon.

Headlines in British tabloids on Friday suggested that England could be asked hold the championship instead of the tiny Middle Eastern nation.

The claims came after a study suggested that there is "an increasing political risk that Qatar may not host the World Cup in 2022"

The report produced by management consultants Cornerstone Global aimed to analyze the impact of the ongoing crisis between Doha and its neighbors.

The “risk report” cited corruption and the possibility of an opposition movement emerging as reasons for contractors to be wary of Qatar 2022.

Some commentators have suggested that Saudi Arabia may attempt to impose regime change in Doha, after it backed little-known Qatari royal Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Thani.

Cornerstone Global’s founder, Ghanem Nuseibeh, who comes from a Palestinian family and lives between London and Dubai, has regularly spoken out against Qatar.

Here he is speaking to Sky News about how “the Qatari government corrupted journalists and academics”.

According to BBC News, Qatar 2022's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy responded to the report by saying that researchers had an "affiliation to the countries blockading Qatar".

"There is absolutely no risk to the future of the first World Cup in the Middle East," its statement added, suggesting the blockade had not affected preparations.

That claim was directly contradicted by the report that “companies working on the World Cup, whilst not panicking yet, are already feeling the impact of the sanctions” including the border closures.

Costs have increased by as much as a quarter in consequence.

Meanwhile, Saudis have enthusiastically taken to Twitter to call for Qatar to be banned from hosting the World Cup.

A state that supports terrorism and embraces it to its circle, and conspires against the security of its neighbors - we will be happy, with God's permission, with the withdrawal of the [world cup's] organization from it.

The results of our beloved King's visit to great Russia. The decision to #withdraw_the_organization_of_the_world_cup_from_Qatar A [financial] rehabilitation for the entire Gulf.

The popularity of the hashtag “withdraw the organization of the world cup from Qatar” is a reflection of growing Saudi and Emirati pressure for its cancellation.




Since it was announced in 2010, Qatar’s position as hosts has caused controversy.

There were claims of corruption after the Gulf state beat the likes of the U.S. to the prize, while concerns over workers conditions have marred building work from day one.

Hundreds of migrant workers have died after working in dangerous conditions and in intense heat. Thousands more continue to labor in the same circumstances, with their story told recently in Adam Sobel’s documentary “The Workers Cup”.

The film “puts a human face on the misery involved in laying the foundations for the World Cup after next,” The Guardian described Monday.

Yet, outrage over Qatar’s “wilful abdication of responsibility” on worker health and safety, as HRW described it, is unlikely to bring down the Middle East’s first World Cup.

Perhaps, though, the demands of regional politics in the Gulf will, however.

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