Condemning what it described as a “hateful campaign” against Qatar’s right to host the World Cup in 2022, the Arab League has joined other regional bodies in backing the Gulf country’s bid, amid ongoing controversy at FIFA.
In a statement issued by the general assembly yesterday, the organization of 22 Arab states became the latest group to offer its “full support” to Qatar.
In addition to fielding criticism of its human rights record, the country has been fending off allegations of corruption related to the tournament bid.
Last month, authorities in the US and Switzerland said that Qatar and Russia are both being investigated as part of an extensive probe into the legality of their bidding for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022.
Taking issue with the accusations, the Cairo-based Arab League said, as quoted by AFP:
“The Arab League endorses the resolution issued by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemning the hateful campaign that attempts to question Qatar’s right to host the 2022 World Cup.”
Last week, the OIC, an organization of Muslim nations, said it stood behind Qatar and criticized “Western media tendentious campaigns” against the Gulf state, Reuters reported.
“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) stresses its support to the State of Qatar and to all that would ensure its success in hosting the World Cup, as well as to its efforts towards optimal preparations for the event.
It applauds the level of progress reached in the preparations and welcomes Qatar’s continued preparations to host the 2022 World Cup,” the statement said.
Representing 57 countries with a total population of 1.5 billion people, the OIC is the world’s second-largest intergovernmental organization after the UN.
The organization added that it supported Qatar’s position as the first Arab country to host such a global sporting tournament, QNA said.
Qatar has been the focus of a number of articles in international media in recent years that have called into question its bidding process for the World Cup.
Last month, it came under the spotlight again after US prosecutors indicted 14 senior administrators and business figures, including FIFA officials, over alleged bribery and corruption in the sport. Swiss officials said they were also opening investigations.
Qatar has maintained it fought a clean campaign and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Earlier this month, the state’s Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah and the former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani both asserted in separate media interviews that they believed Qatar was at the center of a “racist” campaign.
In addition to allegations of corruption, Qatar has also been criticized by international human rights groups about the treatment of construction workers here and scrutinized for its sponsorship/kafala system.
In a bid to counter critics, GCC Information Ministers issued a directive earlier this month calling on all journalists in the region to show their “full solidarity” to Qatar by publishing stories that support the country’s right to host the international football tournament.
While this was criticized by advocates of media freedom as an attempt to control the tone of coverage by governments, others supported the stand as a necessary move to balance the international news narrative and bolster the country’s reputation.