Gulf Cup dead­line passes with no re­sponse

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

DOHA: A dead­line given by Gulf Cup or­gan­is­ers ask­ing Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates and Bahrain to play in next month’s tour­na­ment, hosted by Qatar, has passed with­out re­sponse.

Or­gan­is­ers said on Tues­day that they would now meet later this week to de­cide whether to go ahead with the tour­na­ment.

How­ever, it looks in­creas­ingly like the Gulf Cup will be­come the first ma­jor sport­ing ca­su­alty of a cri­sis in the re­gion which has seen the 2022 World Cup host po­lit­i­cally and diplo­mat­i­cally iso­lated by its neigh­bours since June.

“There was no re­sponse, we didn’t re­ceive any re­sponses at all,” said Gulf Cup Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion gen­eral sec­re­tary Jas­sim al Ru­maihi.

“A de­ci­sion will be made on the 16th.” Asked if he thought any tour­na­ment was likely, Ru­maihi re­sponded: “I hope so. Let’s be op­ti­mistic on this.”

The tour­na­ment could still take place but just be played be­tween Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Kuwait and Ye­men. The dead­line passed on Novem­ber 13.

A let­ter had been sent to fed­er­a­tions in Saudi, UAE the and Bahrain urg­ing them to play in the eight-team tour­na­ment due to be­gin in Doha on De­cem­ber 22.

Ques­tion marks have been placed over their in­volve­ment as Qatar has been iso­lated for the past five months in a bit­ter dis­pute with neigh­bours, in­clud­ing Saudi, UAE and Bahrain.

These three are among a group of coun­tries which ac­cuse Qatar of supporting ex­trem­ism and fos­ter­ing ties with Iran, charges Doha de­nies.

Ev­ery­thing now de­pends on Kuwait.

Gulf Cup or­gan­is­ers have said they will only go ahead if Kuwait take part, but to add to the un­cer­tainty, Kuwait’s foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion re­mains sus­pended by Fifa and it is un­clear if its team can play in the tour­na­ment.

The Gulf Cup, played ev­ery two years, was orig­i­nally meant to be hosted by Kuwait in 2016 but was moved to Qatar be­cause of the Fifa ban.

Any can­cel­la­tion of the Gulf Cup could cause em­bar­rass­ment to Qatar, as it con­tin­ues its $500 mil­lion-aweek prepa­ra­tions for 2022.

The fi­nal is due to be played in the Khal­ifa In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium, which will host matches in 2022.

Khalid al Wa­haibi

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