Qatar’s Israel World Cup welcome sparks debate

Eslam Omar, Thursday 2 Dec 2010

For its World Cup 2022 bid, alongside permitting alcohol, Qatar has green lighted hosting Israel.

Hassan Abdulla Al Thawadi, Chief executive of the Qatar 2022 bid (AP)

"All nations participating in the FIFA World Cup are welcome," the chief executive of Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid said. Hassan Abdulla Al-Thawadi's response followed questions about whether Israel would be welcomed if it qualified.

Qatar's presentation to FIFA in support of its bid to host the most watched football event in the world included a controversial video where an Israeli child says he is eager to see his national team take part in the cup alongside other Arab teams. The video, which spread quickly on the internet, sparked intense debate on Arabic blogs and websites.

“How can Qatar claim to support the Palestinian cause while shamefully announcing [it] will welcome Israel?” This is the most common question on concerned Arabic blogs.

If Qatar wins its bid to host the event in 2022 it would be the first major global sporting event hosted in the Middle East. But some are already asking, is it worth the concessions?

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