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Qatar has fired back against claims from rival Arab countries that it should give up the 2022 World Cup.

The region has been engulfed in a crisis since June, when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a boycott against Qatar for its links to Iran and alleged extremism.

Lobbying groups and other efforts from the four countries behind the boycott have increasingly focused on Qatar’s role hosting the World Cup.

But in a statement from its Government Communications Office, Qatar said the move to strip it of the World Cup showed the boycott “is founded on petty jealousy, not real concerns”.

The construction site at the Al Bayt Stadium

Image: The construction site at the Al Bayt Stadium

It added: “This demand is a clear attempt to undermine our independence. The World Cup, like our sovereignty, is not up for discussion or negotiation.”

Qatar has denied supporting extremists and pointed out that it shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Tehran.

It has also defended itself against allegations of corruption in the 2022 World Cup bidding process and of forcing stadium construction workers to toil in miserable conditions.

The Khalifa International Stadium was the first 2022 venue to be completed

Image: The Khalifa International Stadium was the first 2022 venue to be completed

On Sunday, a Dubai security official wrote on Twitter that the only way for “Qatar’s crisis” to end is if Doha gives up the tournament.

Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan later said his “personal analysis” of the financial pressure Doha faces in hosting the games had been misunderstood.

On Tuesday, Anwar Gargash, UAE state minister for foreign affairs, followed up by writing on Twitter that Qatar’s hosting of the games should “include a repudiation of policies supporting extremism & terrorism”.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE began their boycott of Qatar on June 5.

Mediation efforts by Kuwait, the US and others so far have failed to resolve the diplomatic crisis, the worst to hit the Gulf since Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

When Qatar’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia was closed and sea traffic was cut off by the boycott, World Cup organisers were forced to instigate a “Plan B,” including bringing in supplies from Turkey.

Qatari authorities say their efforts at building stadiums and infrastructure for the tournament, the first to be held in the Mideast, remain on track.

World News – Breaking international news and headlines | Sky News

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