*Saoud al-Mohannadi is Chairman of Organising Committee of Asian Cup, a prestigious tournament the UAE itself is hosting

In a shocking and illogical decision that not only calls into question its politics but also its ethics and sporting spirit, the UAE last night barred top Qatari football official Saoud al-Mohannadi from entering the Emirates for the AFC Asian Cup football tournament starting Saturday.
After he was disallowed entry, al-Mohannadi, the Vice President of both the Qatar Football Association and the Asian Football Confederation has returned to Doha.
What makes the UAE decision doubly cringe-worthy is that al-Mohannadi is also the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Asian Cup, a prestigious tournament the UAE itself is hosting.
The Asian Cup is a quadrennial event that brings together the top teams of the continent of nearly a month of action-packed football.
Qatar’s national team, who are also taking part in the event, are expected to fly out Saturday.
The latest episode of UAE mixing politics with sport comes only a day after FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in the UAE that some of Qatar’s neighbouring countries may be called on to host a few matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup if studies show a 48-team tournament in four years’ time is feasible.
"If you think it's a good thing to have 48 teams in the World Cup, why not try four years before, that's why we are analysing whether it’s possible to have 48 teams already in 2022," Infantino said on Wednesday at a sports conference in Dubai.
"The World Cup will take place in Qatar with 32 teams. Obviously, if we can increase it to 48 teams and make the world happy we should try it."
He added: "If we can accommodate some of the neighbouring countries in the Gulf region which are very close by to host a few games in the World Cup this could be very beneficial for the region and the entire world."
Two days ago, Aref al-Awani, the Tournament Director of the AFC Asian Cup, had stated that the UAE was indeed “willing” to host matches during the 2022 World Cup.
"If FIFA were to propose it, we would certainly look at the economic impact and media opportunities. It's good to have football in the region... sports for us is to bring everybody together," al-Awani had said in comments reported by Al Jazeera.
FIFA is conducting a feasibility study on a possible 48-team World Cup in 2022, and Infantino had said in Qatar last month that a “majority” of the national football federations were in favour of an expanded tournament.
However, the prospect of countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia hosting some FIFA World Cup matches has not found favour with Amnesty International.
The human rights body warned FIFA against expanding the 2022 World Cup to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, raising concerns about human rights in these two states.
"Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in the throes of cracking down on government critics and prominent rights defenders," Amnesty International UK's head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said in October.
"An expansion of the Qatar World Cup into Saudi Arabia and the UAE ought to come with a proper acknowledgement from FIFA of the need for both countries to substantially improve their human rights record," he added.
Qatar has maintained that the decision to expand from 32 to 48 teams would be taken only after a feasibility study is completed in March.
Ever since an illegal blockade was imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, there have been several instances of these countries breaching international laws and protocols.
Rogue Saudi-based TV channel BeoutQ has been broadcasting programmes from beIN Sport illegally despite several warnings.

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