• Suggestion that Qatar may lose the right to host the tournament has frayed nerves in Doha
  • Blatter’s decision to step down comes just days after he was re-elected as president of Fifa
  • Qatar secured the rights to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010

Qatar has hit back at suggestions by England Football Association chairman Greg Dyke that the Gulf country may lose the rights to host the 2022 World Cup after Sepp Blatter announced his decision to step down as Fifa president on 2 June.

“Mr Dyke’s instinct to immediately focus on stripping Qatar of the World Cup speaks volumes on his views concerning what will be the first Fifa World Cup to take place in the Middle East,” said a statement from Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani, president of the Qatar Football Association. “Having already cooperated fully with Mr Garcia’s investigation and having been subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing, we welcome the Office of the Swiss Attorney General conducting its own work into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.”

The suggestion that Qatar may lose the right to host the tournament has frayed nerves in Doha. The Qatar Stock Exchange index fell by 1.5 per cent as of 10:40 am local time following the news late on 2 June that Blatter had resigned. Real estate shares were the worst performing, down by 2.4 per cent.

The suggestions first came in a TV interview with Dyke on BBC. He said: “If I was in Qatar right now, I would not be feeling very comfortable.”

Dyke’s comments came after Blatter’s announcement that he would resign. Blatter said in a televised speech that Fifa will hold an extraordinary general meeting, at which a new president will be elected. The meeting is expected to be held between December this year and March next year.

Fifa officials say the move is the “most responsible way to ensure a smooth transition”, and a period of reform will follow.

Blatter’s decision to step down comes just days after he was re-elected as president of Fifa. It also comes as the body faces fresh allegations of corruption from the US.

On 27 May, authorities in Switzerland arrested Fifa officials on corruption charges on behalf of the US. On 2 June, Fifa’s secretary-general, Jerome Valcke, was named by US media as the person responsible for a $10m transfer of funds cited in a US indictment. After his address on 2 June, the New York Times reported that Blatter himself was now under investigation as part of the same inquiry.

Qatar secured the rights to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010. Since then it has been the source of persistent controversy over the past five years, with repeat allegations of corruption and the abuse of migrant workers.

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