U.S. Soccer had arranged for the men’s national team to hold its winter training camp in Doha as part of preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Rising military tensions in the Persian Gulf following the strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s international airport let officials to reconsider the program.
“Due to the developing situation in the region, US 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. “In the meantime, we are working on alternative arrangements in preparation for the match against Costa Rica on February 1 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.”
The U.S. men’s national team had planned to train in Qatar for several weeks, Yahoo Sports reported. The trip was meant to allow players to acclimate themselves to playing in the region ahead of the international tournament.
The training camp is now expected to take place somewhere within the United States.
“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,” US Soccer said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the country would take a “harsh retaliation” against the United States to avenge Soleimani’s death. The fatal airstrike occurred after U.S. military officials linked Soleimani to a violent protest at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The U.S. Department of Defense said Soleimani, known as Iran’s top military official and commander of the elite Quds Force, was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
The U.S. deployed several thousand troops to the region to protect against potential reprisals.