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Gulf sports officials rally around Qatar as World Cup host

Following a week of bad press over new bribery allegations related to its 2022 World Cup bid, Qatar has received the support of at least two influential sports officials in the region.

Speaking at a weekly general assembly meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the organization’s president Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah charged that any sort of accusations against the Gulf state “were racist actions towards Qatar and Arabs, revealing the malice of those parties in a way that has no justification.”

The remarks were reported by the AIPS Football Commission. According to a reporter there, al-Sabah’s comments come at a time when FIFA is especially sensitive to claims of racism and discrimination.

AIPS added that the Kuwaiti official “effectively painted the attack on Qatar as an attack on the entire Arab region and thus raised the political temperature.”

‘Brothers’

Al-Sabah, who is also president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, added:

“We will confront all such acts of racism and we will stand with Qatar so that no-one removes its right to organize the 2022 World Cup in Doha.

I stand by my brothers in Qatar and with Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim (Al Khalifa), the (Asian Football Confederation) president.”

Earlier this week, Al Khalifa, a Bahraini official, also expressed his support for Qatar, shortly after a series of articles in the Sunday Times alleged that his AFC predecessor, Mohamed Bin Hammam, paid African FIFA officials $5 million to vote for Qatar’s World Cup bid.

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