The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been criticised by the Federation of African Journalists over its "manipulative attempts" to use its members and their organisations as tools to challenge Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The FAJ called upon the UAE to be penalised.
It made the call at the conference of African senior journalists held over the past two days in Accra, Ghana. In a statement seen by MEMO, the FAJ said that it noted with "dismay recent attempts by external elements from the United Arab Emirates who deliberately tried to manipulate journalists' organisations in Africa to issue public statements or campaign against the 2022 FIFA World Cup that is to be hosted by the State of Qatar."
The federation expressed "serious concerns" over what it described as efforts by the UAE to "use Africa and its institutions as political footballs in order to settle scores in political disputes and drag African journalists into activities beyond their primary interests, scope and mandate."
It added its "contempt" for the UAE's "despicable attempts" and reiterated its full support for the progress made by Qatar over issues such as labour rights. The FAJ also committed to work for the facilitation of African journalists wanting to cover the football tournament in Qatar. Serious challenges, it pointed out, have been faced by its members trying to cover such major events.
The organisation called upon the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the qualifying national teams from Africa to be vigilant about the UAE's "manipulative attempts". It also urged the CAF and world football's governing body FIFA to investigate and penalise the people and forces behind this "unprecedented interference in global soccer events."
The UAE has been leading a hostile campaign against Qatar for many years. In 2017, relations between the Gulf States broke down completely when Saudi Arabia and the UAE led a blockade against their smaller neighbour. In what was seen as a humiliating defeat for Saudi Arabia and its allies, last July the top UN court ruled 16-1 in favour of Qatar over the dispute.