Qatar's national soccer team may face disciplinary action from FIFA after its players wore T-shirts showing support for the country's emir. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain and others recently cut all ties with Doha.
The Qatar players wore white shirts showing a profile portrait of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as they prepared for a crucial World Cup qualifier against South Korea in Doha on Tuesday.
Soccer's world governing body FIFA bans any unsanctioned political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.
The T-shirt was also waved by midfielder Hasan Al-Haydos after he scored to put the Qataris 1-0 ahead in the 25th minute.
The show of support comes at a time when several Arab countries have broken off diplomatic ties with the Gulf state.
Saudi Arabia and its allies claim they have moved in response to Qatar's support for "terrorism" and links to Iran. Doha strongly denies the charge, saying its diplomatic isolation is "unjust."
The head of the German soccer federation Reinhard Grindel said last week when asked about the diplomatic crisis in Qatar that soccer can help ease political crises.
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."
Fossati resigned a few hours after leading his team to a 3-2 win over South Korea, a result that kept the nation's faint hopes of reaching next year's World Cup finals in Russia alive.
If Qatar fails in its bid it will be the first World Cup host nation not to have previously qualified for an edition of soccer's largest tournament.
Qatar has used its oil and gas wealth to recruit players from around the world, with about half of the squad naturalized citizens.
jbh/rt (AFP, Reuters)