FIFA 'confident' in 2022 World Cup despite Qatar blockade
FIFA is confident the diplomatic crisis sweeping Qatar will normalise and not threaten the 2022 World Cup, the organisation's chief said.
In an interview published in Swiss newspapers Le Matin Dimanche and Sonntagszeitung on Sunday, Gianni Infantino said he expects the diplomatic situation to revert back to normal by the time the tournament is played in five and a half years time.
FIFA is "closely watching the evolving situation" and is in "regular contact with the highest authorities in Qatar", he said.
In the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region in years, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, plus Egypt and Yemen, announced last week they were cutting all ties with Qatar, accusing it of allegedly supporting "terrorism" and having good ties with Saudi Arabia's regional-rival Iran.
The Arab countries closed air, sea and land links with Qatar, barred the emirate's planes from their airspace and ordered Qatari citizens out within 14 days.
As the Gulf crisis entered its second week, there have been serious concerns about how it will affect the import of labour and raw materials required for the construction of World Cup venues.
"Obviously, if football can offer a small contribution to improve the situation, I won't hesitate to offer my help," Infantino said, adding that FIFA should stay clear of "geopolitics".
"In any case, I am not in the habit of speculating and I'm not going to this time either."
Qatar will be hosting World Cup between 21 November and 18 December 2022 and is scheduled to host multiple events across different sports in the lead-up to the tournament.
Since being controversially chosen by FIFA in 2010 as the host, Qatar has maintained that it is a politically secure nation despite its location in a volatile region.
Doha has also emphasised that the tournament serves the entire Gulf, and not just the tiny gas-rich emirate.