Our heroes’ formula of leaving with all the cash and paying no tax could be coming awry in the Middle East as a Dubai official suggests Qatar should give up the World Cup
Exciting territory for the Middle East ingenues at Fifa, as the Qatar World Cup is elevated to the status of geopolitical bargaining chip. I know! It’ll be hard to know whether to qualify for it or sign a triple entente in the hope it’ll see us through the group stage.
But first, a recap. Back in June, several countries in the region – including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt – instituted a blockade of Qatar, severing diplomatic relations and cutting off trade routes and so on. This, they said, was a response to the country’s support for terrorism and closeness to Iran. Among their various demands was that Qatar shut down the Doha‑based al-Jazeera and align itself far more tightly with other Gulf countries. Eye‑catchingly, Dubai’s high-profile security chief has now upped the stakes and claimed the blockade would end if Qatar gave up the World Cup. “If the World Cup leaves Qatar,” reasoned Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan last Sunday, “Qatar’s crisis will be over … because the crisis is created to get away from it.”