The countries involved in the ongoing diplomatic crisis boycotted their participation in the Gulf Cup to be held in Qatar. It is a popular regional level football tournament where all the GCC nations including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain used to participate. This regional football tournament will be held in Qatar for the fourth time. But this time it will be without these three blockading nations. On this auspicious occasion, a draw ceremony was organised in Doha, the capital city of Qatar last Wednesday.
Next month Qatar will be hosting the 24th edition of the Arab Gulf Cup starting from 27th November to 9th December. This year the four major teams will be Oman, Kuwait, Iraq and Yemen. Three of the strongest team, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain boycotted the tournament and denied their participation because of the diplomatic crisis which started in June 2017.
With regards to this, Qatar Football Association’s media head, Ali Al Salat gave an open statement to Al Jazeera on Wednesday: "The Arabian Gulf Cup Football Federation tried to send an official letter to these countries' football associations and they had the chance till today to announce their participation, but no one has answered, so we end up with five teams,"
Two years back the Gulf Cup was actually scheduled to be held in Qatar. It was however moved to Kuwait when the three GCC nations, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain imposed a blockade on Doha. The land, air and sea routes were blocked to end all trade and transportation channels. They accused Qatar as a nation who is supporting terrorism, but this allegation was repeatedly and vehemently rejected by Qatar as there is no legitimate proof.
Earlier in 2017, another incident happened when Saudi Arabia's team denied communicating with the press. It was because of Al Jazeera and other Qatar-based news channels present over there.
Al Salat further said: “ The competition has faced a lot of obstacles, but we have to continue participating in this tournament and continue the legacy of this competition. We have to make it successful."
Doha most popular and legendary football stadium, the Khalifa International Stadium will host this upcoming Gulf Cup. This state-of-art air-conditioned stadium is having a sitting capacity for more than 40,000 spectators. A round-robin format will be used as a benchmark during this competition to organise the matches between the contestants. Kuwait holds the title of lifting up the Gulf Cup trophy ten times. Whereas, Oman defeated the UAE on penalties during the finals in 2017 and won this prestigious cup for the second time.