World Cup faces terrorist threat as Islamic State call for attacks

All you need to know ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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Concerns have been raised about the safety of football fans and teams heading to Qatar for the World Cup after it emerged supporters of the Islamic State have encouraged its members to carry out terrorist attacks at the tournament in the Middle East, according to reports. Gareth Southgate’s England side are one of the 32 teams heading for the month-long tourmanent in the Gulf despite issues relating to workers’ human rights abuse and the country’s ideology concerning the illegality of homosexuality in Qatar, and could be facing the threat of attacks whilst in the country.

According to Spanish outlet Marca, messaging app Telegram has been used by supporters as a platform for IS supporters to send cryptic messages which involve detailed plans of attacks.

The report claims their plan is to plot attacks on the tournament by targeting individual nations that have attempted or successfully helped fight against the Islamic State, which would include teams from Western countries.

The attacks have been justified by the IS as “cleansing campaigns” to supporters, with terrorists told to carry out attacks by being encouraged to “be part of the World Cup in Qatar and score your goals. The goal is open.” While some messages are more cryptic, others have referred to “violent and biological” acts against their perceived enemies.

Spanish media, including La Razon, have reportedly seen messages involving IS supporters planning on targeting members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Those attacks could be aimed towards fans of Canada, Belgium and France, amongst a long list of European nations.

The news will only strengthen the calls that have come from several organisations for England to boycott the tournament due to fears raised over the safety of LGBT people and the price of staying in the nation for travelling fans.

The World Cup is just days away from its opening ceremony some 12 years after it was controversially awarded in Qatar in 2010 by FIFA. Deposed president Sepp Blatter recently admitted for the first time that it was a “mistake” to award the World Cup to Qatar, a country that is home to just 2.9 million residents.

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It was reported in February 2021 by The Guardian that over 6,500 migrant workers had died during the construction of stadiums and other projects related to the tournament since the decision was made, leading to calls from human rights groups to abandon plans to travel to Qatar.

However, Southgate’s 26-man squad are due to play their opening encounter against Iran on November 21 after heading to the Middle East earlier this week.

It remains to be seen whether security will be stepped up in response to the threat of a possible terrorist attack, although British police will already be in the nation to help protect supporters heading out to Qatar.

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