January 6 – The US men’s squad has scrapped plans to go to Qatar for a winter training camp amid heightened tensions in the Middle East following the controversial assassination of Iran’s top military commander ordered by Donald Trump.
Qasem Soleimani was killed Friday outside Baghdad International airport in Iraq sparking widespread condemnation in the region of the Trump administration as well as concerns in the west over likely repercussions, with Iran’s leaders vowing revenge.
The US team was set to train in Doha for most of January ahead of a friendly against Costa Rica on February 1, but officials say they are making “alternative arrangements”.
“Due to the developing situation in the region, U.S. Soccer has decided to postpone traveling to Qatar for the Men’s National Team’s scheduled January training camp,” US Soccer said in a statement.
“We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar’s world-class facilities and hospitality.”
The carefully worded statement will nevertheless come as a blow to the Qataris who are building towards the 2022 World Cup. The 20-day camp was scheduled to take place at Doha’s famed Aspire Academy. The US squad will now gather in Florida instead.
According to agency reports, Qatar houses about 10,000 US military personnel and the decision to ditch the visit also means the cancellation of “closed-door” games, one of them against Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg.
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