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Fifa head: Qatar crisis to be solved before 2022 World Cup

LAUSANNE World football body Fifa is confident the diplomatic crisis sweeping Qatar will normalise and not threaten the 2022 World Cup, the organisation's president Gianni Infantino said in an interview published yesterday.

"We are facing a diplomatic crisis," Mr Infantino told Switzerland's Le Matin Dimanche newspaper.

"I am confident the region will return to a normalcy."

He told the paper that Fifa was "closely watching the evolving situation and we are in regular contact with the highest authorities in Qatar", but he stressed that the World Cup was five years away.

"If football can offer a small contribution to improve the situation, I won't hesitate to offer my help," he said, adding that Fifa should stay clear of geopolitics.

Saudi Arabia and allies including the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar a week ago, accusing it of supporting extremism.

The move triggered the most serious diplomatic flap to hit the region in years and experts have said it could impact the 2022 World Cup.

Since being controversially chosen by Fifa in 2010 as the host, Qatar has maintained that it is a politically secure nation despite its location in a volatile region.

Doha has also emphasised that the tournament serves the entire Gulf and not just the tiny gas-rich emirate.

Those claims have faced fresh scrutiny during the crisis, possibly invigorating a campaign by critics of Qatar to strip Doha of the tournament.

Meanwhile, Qatar's official overseer of charities denied that philanthropic groups in the country backed terrorism, days after US President Donald Trump backed a move by some Arab states to pressure Doha over alleged militant financing.

"The Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities deplores the accusation that Qatari humanitarian organisations support terrorism," the body said in an official statement.

The authority added that it has succeeded in protecting NGOs based in Doha "from the risk of being exploited to launder money and finance terrorism".
 - WIRE SERVICES

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