Browsing 'fifa' News

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Qatar is not in danger of losing hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup over the ongoing Gulf crisis, the head of FIFA has said.

The vote of confidence comes as Qatar faces an economic and diplomatic boycott from some of its neighbors.

As the dispute enters its second week, there are serious concerns about how the row will affect the import of labor and raw materials into the country.

FIFA

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

However, speaking to Swiss media this week, FIFA President Gianni Infantino pointed out that the tournament is still five years away. And diplomatic relations should be back to normal by the time 2022 rolls around.

According to AFP, Infantino added that he was happy to help in any way to resolve the crisis.

But “the essential role of FIFA, as I understand it, is to deal with football and not to interfere in geopolitics,” he said.

Construction delays

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain closed their land, sea and air borders to Qatar a week ago.

Since then, authorities have been working with new food suppliers to ensure residents experience no shortages.

Mwani Qatar, which operates Hamad Port, has also announced a direct service to Sohar Port in Oman to help bring imports in.

However, the new border controls along with travel restrictions have many people concerned about whether Qatar will meet its tight construction deadlines ahead of 2022.

Speaking to the Telegraph, a construction economist said the new Gulf dispute “could not have come at a worse time” for Qatar.

Graham Robinson, director of economic forecasting firm Global Construction Perspectives, said that the sheer number of canceled flights from the Gulf to Doha could “acutely affect labor supply.”

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This is already the case for some Indian workers who had plans to head to Qatar, according to local media reports.

The uncertainty has also worried some nations. The Philippines for example temporarily banned its citizens from working in Qatar last week. After an outcry from its own citizens however, it quickly scaled back the rule.

Force majeure

Construction costs could also go up in the coming weeks, pushing back deadlines, according to Robinson.

Reem Saad / Doha News

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He said:

“There is the potential for significant disruption and also massive cost overruns as getting construction materials into Qatar to build stadiums may yet prove more difficult, time consuming and costly.”

Legally speaking, some contractors are already talking about invoking force majeure clauses to protect their businesses if they can’t deliver on projects.

But for now, FIFA said it is not worried about missed deadlines. Officials will remain in “regular contact” with Qatar authorities to monitor the situation, Infantino said.

Thoughts?

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Qatar’s national carrier has signed a multi-million dollar deal with FIFA to become an official sponsor for the next five years.

This means Qatar Airways’ name will be on several upcoming football-related events around the world, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2022 World Cup in its own backyard.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed by FIFA or the airline.

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

But in a statement, the world’s football governing body called it “one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”

This likely puts the cost of the deal in the hundreds of millions of dollar range, in line with at least three of FIFA’s other current major partners: Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai.

Embattled organization

The deal comes as FIFA attempts to recover from the biggest corruption scandal in its history.

In 2015, several officials faced bribery and racketeering charges in the US. Also that year, FIFA’s longtime top boss Sepp Blatter was banned from football activities for the foreseeable future.

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FIFA Congress

FIFA has also been dogged by unproven allegations that Qatar and Russia bought hosting rights to the World Cup.

These claims, taken with FIFA’s recent promise to uphold human rights in Qatar amid international concerns, has some wondering if the new tie-up will create conflicts of interest.

Still, the deal is sure to help the Swiss-based organization with its recent financial woes. It reported a $369 million loss during its 2016 fiscal year.

And a few years before this, high-profile sponsors Sony and Emirates declined to renew their partnerships with FIFA.

Second-tier partners have also pulled out in recent years, including Johnson & Johnson and Castrol.

According to Reuters, FIFA is now still on the hunt for second-tier World Cup sponsors and third-tier regional supporters.

‘Natural partner’

In a statement about the new Qatar Airways tie-up, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said:

“FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker with FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

For its part, Qatar Airways, which also has partnerships with FC Barcelona, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC and other sporting events, said the tie-up makes perfect sense.

Its CEO Akbar Al Baker called FIFA “a natural partner,” adding:

“We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be proudly held in our home country, the State of Qatar.”

Thoughts?

QFA

Saoud Al Mohannadi, vice chairman of Qatar Football Association

A senior Qatari football official has won his appeal against FIFA’s ethics committee, which had banned him from the sport for one year.

Saoud Al-Mohannadi was cleared of allegations that he failed to cooperate with the ethics committee on an undisclosed investigation.

In a statement, FIFA said that there was not enough proof to meet “the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee” that Al-Mohannadi did anything wrong.

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FIFA headquarters

It added:

“Therefore, the one-year ban imposed by the adjudicatory chamber on Mr Al-Mohannadi, which entered into force on 16 November 2016, and the fine of CHF 20,000 have been lifted.”

The punishment was imposed against the Qatar Football Association (QFA) Vice-Chairman in November 2016.

The exact nature of any impropriety remains unknown, but FIFA previously said that it was not related to the 2022 World Cup.

QFA had maintained that the charges were “without legitimate basis.”

Elections

Al-Mohannadi, who is also vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, was also prohibited from running for a seat in FIFA’s newly reformed executive committee.

AFC

AFC Extraordinary Congress 2016

Displeased by this, Asia’s top football officials refused to participate in a planned ExCo election in September.

According to Al-Mohannadi’s lawyers, a new election is set for May. However, Reuters reports that he has missed the deadline to stand for these elections.

Thoughts?