UK military to help keep fans safe at Qatar World Cup, says Ministry of Defence

Britain's Royal Air Force will support counter-terrorism efforts through air security operations

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Thani in London. Among the issues discussed was the Fifa World Cup, being held in November and December in Qatar. AP
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The British Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy will help to keep fans safe at the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the UK government has announced.

The Ministry of Defence said the RAF and the Navy will help to counter terrorism and other threats to the tournament, which is due to take place in the country from November 21 to December 18.

The announcement comes after Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Thani visited Britain last week and met Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain would "join forces" with Qatar to provide air policing and "make sure citizens from across the world can enjoy attending the World Cup".

“I am delighted that our joint squadron with the Qatari Emiri Air Force of Typhoons will patrol the air space during the tournament,” he said.

The announcement follows criticism over the handling of fans at the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday by French police, who used teargas on supporters outside the ground.

Thousands of supporters missed the kick-off of the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, which was delayed by 36 minutes. This was due to congestion problems that resulted in large numbers stuck around the Stade de France perimeter for several hours.

The MoD's activities at the World Cup in Doha will include maritime security support from the Royal Navy, advanced search training, operational planning and command and control support, and further specialist advice.

The RAF will support counterterrorism efforts through air security operations alongside the Qatari Emiri Air Force, the MoD said.

The Joint Typhoon Squadron, also known as 12 Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and operated by RAF and QEAF pilots, will be in place to tackle threats to supporters.

The unit was formed in June 2020 and has held regularly exercises in Qatar.

QEAF is overseeing air security for the World Cup, delivering the majority of operations.

The MoD said Qatar is the only partner with which the RAF operates joint squadrons — 11 Squadron Qatari Emiri Air Force, the Joint Hawk Training Squadron at RAF Leeming and 12 Squadron, the Joint Typhoon Squadron at RAF Coningsby.

These partnerships aim to give RAF personnel increased flying hours, provide the Qatari Emiri Air Force with access to RAF accredited training, and see long-term investment in RAF infrastructure and training facilities.

Updated: May 29, 2022, 1:05 PM