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Taiwan says it has been unable to register as a national for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Updated  

Jun-14 13:11 first published at 13:11 PM


People gather in Doha, Qatar, on May 6, 2022, to commemorate the “200 Days To Go” countdown to the FIFA World Cup 2022. Imad Creidi/Reuters

DOHA/TAIPEI, June 14 (Reuters) – After the island complained that its inhabitants couldn’t register as Taiwanese, a top Qatari official warned on Tuesday that an identification card that doubles as an entry visa for the World Cup in Qatar is likely to designate Taiwan fans as being from China.

The subject is exceedingly delicate for Taiwan’s democratically-governed government, which is enraged by China’s claims of sovereignty over it, particularly its bigger neighbor’s efforts to claim Taiwanese citizens as Chinese nationals.

Officials from the Qatar World Cup have stated that all nationalities are welcome to attend. All ticketholders must apply for the Hayya card, which functions as both an identification card and an entry visa for Qatar.

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However, Taiwan is not mentioned in the application’s drop-down menu, nor is the name “Chinese Taipei,” under which Taiwan competes in most international sporting events to avoid political issues.

The international telephone dialing code for Taiwan is also not available on a contact form for questions.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou, Taiwan’s representative office in Saudi Arabia, which controls Qatar, has been attempting to figure out what’s going on.

“At this time, we’re still waiting for a response from the competent body in Qatar,” she said.

The director of Qatar’s World Cup organisers’ Hayya program, Saeed Al-Kuwari, told reporters that he “believed” the card system would identify “China” as the nationality of Taiwan passport holders.

“Or perhaps we’ll provide something just for them,” he added later, without going into detail.

He advised that holders of Taiwanese passports upload a copy of the document to the system without selecting a nationality from the drop-down box.

The optical character recognition technology has been programmed by the organizers to capture the correct data, he noted.

“So it doesn’t matter what nationality it claims. It will be authorized, and he will be allowed to enter the nation using this information.”

Qatar, like other countries, recognizes only China’s government and has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

China has been increasing pressure on governments and foreign firms to refer to Taiwan as part of China in official papers and on websites, in order to assert its sovereignty claims.

Taiwan has never played at the World Cup finals and crashed out in the second round of Asian nations qualifying for the 2022 tournament last year after losing all eight matches.

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Andrew Mills and Ben Blanchard contributed reporting, while Clarence Fernandez edited the piece.

The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles are our standards.

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