Asia’s football body underlined its strong backing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Thursday as questions grew over the event after FIFA’s president announced his resignation.

The Asian Football Confederation said “the whole Asian football community stands with Qatar” as speculation rose that the Gulf state could be stripped of hosting rights.

“The Gulf is a true football region, with some of the world’s most passionate football lovers, and Qatar is no exception,” an AFC statement said.

“Qatar 2022 will be the first time the West Asian region will have had a chance to show this passion to the world, during what will be only the second FIFA World Cup to be held in Asia.

“The AFC and the whole Asian football community stands with Qatar and we all look forward to hosting the World Cup, and welcoming the world.”

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, who is from Bahrain, has stood firm in the face of criticism over Qatar, as has controversial FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

But Qatar may come under threat after Blatter announced his resignation on Tuesday, just days after being re-elected, as a US corruption probe ensnares the world body.

On Thursday, Britain said it was ready to step in and hold the 2022 World Cup if it was taken away from Qatar, whose hosting has consistently been dogged by controversy.

FIFA sanitised an internal probe into allegedly widespread corruption in the bidding process, while rights groups protest the deaths of foreign construction workers.

The desert state’s summer heat also caused concern for players and fans, with the tournament now scheduled to be held in November-December 2022. – Agence France-Presse

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