ZURICH (Reuters) – Soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Monday it was in “regular contact” with the organizing committee of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, though it did not comment directly on the diplomatic situation involving the Gulf State.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and others severed ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
FIFA said in an emailed statement that it was “in regular contact with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
“We have no further comments for the time being,” it added.
Qatar’s local World Cup organizing committee and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC,) which organizes international matches in the region, both declined to comment.
The influential German Football Association (DFB), whose team are the world champions, said it would discuss the matter with the German government.
“We will discuss the new, complex political situation in the region and specifically in Qatar with the federal government,” DFB President Reinhard Grindel said in a statement.
“In such matters we will of course be in very close contact with (European soccer’s governing body) UEFA.
“There are still five years to go before the World Cup starts. During this time priority should be given to political solutions rather than threats of boycott,” added Grindel, who is also a FIFA Council member.
“But one thing is clear. The football community worldwide should agree that … major tournaments should not be played in countries that actively support terror.”
Qatar’s national team are still involved in the qualifying competition for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and are bottom of their group with four points from seven games, with matches against South Korea, Syria, and China still to play.
There is a very remote chance they could still finish third in the group and qualify for a playoff match against the team that finishes third in the other Asian qualifying group, with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE among potential opponents.
The 2022 World Cup is the centerpiece of a carefully crafted strategy to project Qatar on to the global stage via sport. The diplomatic row could impact its preparations.
In the lead-up to the tournament, the country is scheduled to host multiple events across many different sports, aimed at improving infrastructure and expertise.
This year it is organizing 72 events, 39 of which will be international competitions.
It has already hosted the 10th Artistic Gymnastics World Cup and an IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting, and a FINA Swimming World Cup is scheduled for September.
Swimming governing body FINA did not respond to requests for a comment on Monday as to whether it would still go ahead.
Top-level modern pentathlon, sailing, squash and show jumping are also scheduled for later in the year when temperatures cool.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, Neil Robinson, Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)