FIFA president Giovanni Infantino has said that he believes the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the Gulf states will not affect the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Infantino said he was confident that diplomatic relations will be restored by the time the tournament begins in around five years time, during an interview with Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche.
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“The essential role of FIFA, as I understand it, is to deal with football and not to interfere in geopolitics,” he said.
“At the moment, we are actually facing a diplomatic crisis in Qatar. However, I am convinced and optimistic that the situation in the region will be relaxed again.”
“Obviously, if football can make a small contribution, in any way, to an improvement, I will not hesitate to offer my help.”
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and a sprinkling of other nations suddenly broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
Saudi Arabia, the only country to share a land boundary with Qatar, shut its border and along with the UAE and Bahrain closed their airspace to flights to and from Doha. The trio also ordered all Qatari citizens to leave their territories.
In addition, restrictions have been placed on shipping vessels moving through the Persian Gulf, and any Saudi, UAE or Bahraini national posting support for Qatar on social media face lengthy jail terms and a large fine.
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Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have also banned the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news channel, punishing those are caught watching it with a $2,700 fine ($26,000 for hotels and other tourist destinations).
The run-up to the 2022 World Cup has also seen some controversy regarding thousands of migrant workers used to build the tournament’s infrastructure, mostly from Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have accused the Gulf monarchy of mistreating foreign workers. Under Qatar’s labor laws, an employer has a great deal of leverage over its workers who need their employer’s consent to change jobs or even leave the country.
The International Trades Union Confederation estimates that as of 2017, as many as 1,000 migrant workers have died each year building World Cup facilities in Qatar.