Manchester United scrap plans for Qatar winter training camp amid regional tensions

Manchester United will not travel to the Gulf for a training camp next month due to security concerns amid tensions in the region, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer revealed this week. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Manchester United scrap plans for Qatar winter training camp amid regional tensions

  • Last January and November, United squad trained in Dubai
  • Earlier this month, the US men’s soccer team also canceled plans to train in Doha

LONDON: Manchester United will not travel to the Gulf for a training camp next month due to security concerns amid tensions in the region.

The Reds had not yet chosen a final destination but club officials were said to be strongly considering Qatar as the location for the winter break camp.

United are without a game for 16 days between Feb. 1 when they play Wolves in the Premier League and Feb. 17 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

United have trained at the Aspire Academy in Qatar’s capital Doha in the past during previous winter training camps, last in 2013 toward the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s spell in charge.

Last January, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad trained in Dubai and some of his players not on international duty trained there in November during an international break.

Solskjaer told UK media that he has decided to take the United players to either Spain or Portugal instead.

When asked if United’s plans had changed, Solskjaer said: “Yes, there are things that worry me more than football.

“We were looking at the Middle East but that is definitely not going to happen. We will stay in Europe,” he added.

Tensions in the Gulf have been raised by the US killing of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in an air strike near Baghdad airport and the unintentional downing by Iranian forces of a Ukrainian International Airlines in Tehran, killing all 176 passengers on board.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued travel advice for Qatar this month, saying tourists should “remain vigilant” amid a “heightened threat of terrorist attacks globally against UK interests and British nationals.”

Earlier this month, the US men’s soccer team also canceled plans to train in Doha throughout January “due to the developing situation in the region,” according to a. US Soccer Federation statement.


Iran teams’ AFC Champions League matches moved to UAE

Updated 22 January 2020

Iran teams’ AFC Champions League matches moved to UAE

  • Tensions were raised earlier this month by the killing of an Iranian army general by a US drone strike in Iraq
  • The Iranian teams will play against Bahrain and Kuwait
KUALA LUMPUR: Two Iranian football clubs’ AFC Champions League preliminary round matches have been moved to a neutral country because of security fears, Asia football’s governing body announced Wednesday.
The Asian Football Confederation said the ties — Shahr Khodro FC of Iran v Riffa of Bahrain and Iran’s Esteghlal FC v Kuwait SC — will now be played in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, January 25.
Both the matches were scheduled to be played in Iran on Tuesday but were postponed and “moved to neutral venues because of ongoing security concerns and the decision of several governments to issue travel warnings to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said an AFC statement.
Tensions were raised earlier this month by the killing of an Iranian army general by a US drone strike in Iraq.
Iran’s armed forces subsequently shot down a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 in error soon after take-off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.
The four football teams representing Iran in the AFC Champions League — Esteghlal, Persepolis, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro — have all threatened to boycott the competition if they are banned from hosting matches.