Asian Football Confederation calls Gulf “a true football region” amid pressure on FIFA to remove Qatar as hosts.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has underlined its full support for Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup and has encouraged media in the region to counter those questioning its right to stage the event.
The GCC information ministers, meeting in Doha on Wednesday, agreed on a strategic campaign to boost Qatar’s image.
The meeting came as football’s scandal-ridden governing body, FIFA, suspended the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup amid a widening probe into corruption at the organisation and allegations of bribery during previous bid contests.
Last week, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah said Qatar would one day show “who is behind this campaign against Qatar”, suggesting the country was being unfairly targeted over allegations of corruption in the vote that won it the Cup, and of abuse of migrant workers.
Al-Attiyah dismissed the “bashing campaign” of criticism of its 2022 bid as anti-Arab prejudice.
Rights groups including Amnesty International accuse Qatar of failing to address the poor working conditions of many of the more than one million migrant labourers engaged in the country’s huge construction boom including building of stadiums for the World Cup.
FIFA and the bidding process face increasing scrutiny as Swiss prosecutors continue to investigate alleged irregularities surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively.
FIFA said on Wednesday it would hold an extraordinary committee meeting in July to discuss dates for an election to replace the outgoing president Sepp Blatter, who announced his plans to step down amid mounting pressure for him to go.
Blatter announced his resignation last Tuesday, less than a week after Swiss police raided a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by US prosecutors.