ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – World football’s governing body FIFA on Sunday said it agreed to remove Qatari refereeing officials from managing a World Cup Qualifying match involving the United Arab Emirates.
According to FIFA, a request from the UAE to prevent Qatari referees from officiating their upcoming match against Thailand was approved.
A referee from Singapore has been chosen to replace the Qatari one for the match in Bangkok on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
“The decision has been taken for sporting reasons and in view of the current geopolitical situation,” FIFA said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and other nations cut ties with Qatar earlier in the week, accusing the country of supporting terrorism.
Qatar denied the assertions made against it, labeling the decision from its neighboring countries to sever ties “unjustified” and with “no basis in fact.”
Despite the change in referees, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was confident the recent political spat would not threaten Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
Infantino said he predicted the political strife involving the Gulf nations would be restored by the time the tournament is played, according to Swiss media.
“We are indeed facing a diplomatic crisis,” he said. “But, on the other hand, I am confident that the region will return to a normalized situation.”
He added that FIFA was monitoring the situation and was “in regular contact” with Qatari authorities.
“The essential role of FIFA, as I understand it, is to deal with football and not to interfere in geopolitics,” he concluded.
Editing by G. H. Renaud