A key strategist for the U.K.'s governing Conservative Party started a global lobbying campaign to cancel the 2022 Qatar World Cup, according to documents revealed by The Guardian newspaper on Sunday.
The document proposed "a campaign to expose the truth of the Qatar regime and bring about the termination of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar" which also matches with a key demand of Doha's arch-regional rivals, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
Dubbed as Project Ball, Sir Lynton Crosby requested the equivalent of $6.4m payable to his lobbying strategy firm CTF Partners in order to use it for setting up full-time war rooms around the world to tarnish Qatar's reputation in the mainstream media through spreading negative stories. "We would identify all potential ‘allies' in the media, politics, industry, academia, and government and reach out to them guiding a deliberate attempt to inform and motivate them about the need to reconsider Qatar's hosting of the World Cup in 2022," the document reads. It also offered to "pressure on FIFA to strip Qatar of its right to host the World Cup as for any other campaign that we have run."
Since the Gulf conflict began in June 2017, some have questioned whether the gas-rich emirate can subsequently meet deadlines to build or renovate the eight stadiums currently earmarked for 2022. But Doha has said it swiftly replaced Saudi and UAE companies with Chinese and Malaysian contractors, among others. Qatar has been isolated since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut ties with the World Cup host, accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with Iran, triggering the biggest political crisis in the Gulf for several years. Doha denies the claims.
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