LONDON (Reuters) – The six Arab countries who last month cut ties with Qatar are reported to have written to world soccer’s governing body FIFA to demand it be stripped of hosting the 2022 World Cup because they consider the Gulf state to be a “base of terrorism”.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino told Swiss website The Local that Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had collectively written to FIFA asking it to remove Qatar as hosts under Article 85 of the FIFA Code, which allows for such action in the case of emergency.
“The countries warned FIFA of the risks threatening fan and player security in a country that is ‘the base and the castle of terrorism’,” The Local quoted Infantino as saying.
Infantino also said the countries have threatened to boycott the tournament should their request not be acted upon.
Reuters has not seen a copy of the letter and FIFA did not respond to a request for confirmation.
A source familiar with the Qatari government’s World Cup activities said Qatar is aware the Saudis and others are engaged in such a move but understands Qatar has not yet received the letter.
People in the United States who represent and advise the Saudi government have also not yet responded to Reuters’ request for confirmation or comment.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran. Doha denies the charges.
Qatar, a country with a negligible soccer background or infrastructure, was a controversial winner of the right to host the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in November and December to minimize the impact of the desert state’s harsh climate.
Additonal reporting by Mark Hosenball, editing by Ed Osmond