Taiwan may list World Cup fans as Chinese

People join an event marking "200 days to go" Before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, in Doha, Qatar on May 6, 2022.  REUTERS / Imad Creidi

People are attending an event marked “200 days to go” before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, May 6, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. REUTERS / Imad Creidi

Doha / Taipei: An identification card that doubles as an entry visa for the Qatar World Cup will probably list Taiwanese fans from China, a senior Qatari official said on Tuesday, adding that its citizens could not register as Taiwanese after complaining about the island.

The issue is highly sensitive to democratically governed Taiwan, which has jumped on the bandwagon of China’s sovereignty and especially its huge neighbor’s efforts to claim the Taiwanese people as Chinese citizens.

Qatar World Cup officials have repeatedly said that all nationalities are welcomed during the tournament. All ticket holders must apply for the Haya card used to identify fans, which also serves as their entry visa to Qatar.

But the word “Taiwan” or even “Chinese Taipei” is not mentioned in the drop-down menu of the application, under which Taiwan competes in most international sports events to avoid political problems.

A contact form for the query does not allow access to the International Telephone Dialing Code for Taiwan.

Taiwan’s representative office in Saudi Arabia, which oversees Qatar, is trying to find out what’s going on, Foreign Ministry spokesman Joan Ou said.

“Currently, we are still waiting for the response from the relevant authorities in Qatar,” he added.

Saeed al-Quwari, director of the Haya program for Qatar’s World Cup organizers, told reporters he “believes” the card system would probably list “China” as the nationality of Taiwanese passport holders.

“Or maybe we’ll provide something special for them,” he added, without elaborating.

Taiwanese passport holders should upload a copy of the document to the system without selecting a nationality from the drop-down menu, he said.

Organizers have programmed an optical character recognition system to gather the necessary accurate information, he added.

“It simply came to our notice then. It is going to be approved and he will enter the country on the basis of this information. “

Taiwan has no diplomatic relations with Qatar, which, like most countries, only recognizes the Chinese government.

China, seeking to assert its sovereignty, is increasing pressure on the country and foreign agencies to refer to Taiwan as part of China in official documents and websites.

Taiwan has never played in a World Cup final, losing eight matches and was knocked out in the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 tournament last year.

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