DOHA: Political tension over Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup finals has been ramped up by the information ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A formal statement issued by the official government Qatar News Agency said the ministers had agreed to devise a counter-attacking strategy to ongoing criticism.

FIFA’s award to Qatar in December 2010 has always been controversial and has been thrust back into the spotlight by the corruption crisis within the world football federation.

Qatar’s hosting is likely to prove a divisive issue in the forthcoming campaign for the FIFA presidency after veteran Sepp Blatter’s sudden decision to step down.

The ministers’ statement, issued after their meeting in Doha, said: “GCC information ministers renewed their call for the media to counter all those who seek to question the right of the State of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, stressing GCC states full solidarity with the State of Qatar and encouraged media in the GCC to continue countering these campaigns at home and abroad.”

The ministers handed Qatar the responsibility of devising proposals for a counter-attack.

This contrasts with the strategy of the 2022 Supreme Committee which has been content to concentrate on preparations and rely, only when needed, on comparativelt low-key rebuttals of criticism.

The statement added: “The ministers agreed that the state of Qatar, in coordination with the general secretariat, is to develop a strategic vision for the joint media moves to counter such campaigns to reflect the international dimension of media discourse to show the right of GCC state, represented by the State of Qatar, to organise this important event.”