Qatar’s national team could face disciplinary action from FIFA after players warmed up for a World Cup qualifier against South Korea in T-shirts showing support for the country’s emir.
The players prepared for the crucial game in Doha on Tuesday wearing white shirts emblazoned with a profile portrait of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The image has become a widely-used symbol of defiance by Qataris in response to the current diplomatic crisis in the Gulf which has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and others cut all ties with Doha.
The T-shirt was also waved by attacking midfielder Hasan Al-Haydos after he put the Qataris 1-0 ahead from a free-kick in the 25th minute.
After scoring Haydos sprinted to the touchline and held up a T-shirt to the crowd.
The show of support from the national football team comes during the worst diplomatic crisis witnessed in the Gulf for years.
Saudi and its allies claim they have moved in response to Qatar’s support for “terrorism”, a charge strongly denied by Doha, which says the diplomatic isolation is “unjust”.
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup finals. FIFA bans any unsanctioned political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.
Earlier this week in response to the Gulf crisis, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said football’s governing body does “not interfere in geopolitics” and gave his support for the 2022 tournament going ahead in Qatar.
Afterwards, Qatar’s Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati defended his players and then condemned the “ridiculous situation” of the “blockade” on the emirate.
“I don’t see something that can receive a punishment as it is a T-shirt with a picture of the emir,” he said.
“It doesn’t say anything against anybody.”
He added: “I can’t agree with the blockade that is against the people, against the families, many families are damaged, they really don’t deserve this.”