US men’s soccer team cancels Qatar training trip after Soleimani killing
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US men’s soccer team cancels Qatar training trip after Soleimani killing

Decision made to remain in US for training ahead of 2022 World Cup due to ‘developing situation in the region,’ amid fears Tehran could target American interests in the Gulf

FILE -- United States National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter, left, walks off the pitch with players during a weather delay in the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal soccer match against Jamaica, July 3, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
FILE -- United States National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter, left, walks off the pitch with players during a weather delay in the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal soccer match against Jamaica, July 3, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The US men’s soccer team has canceled its plan to train in Doha, Qatar, from January 5-25 “due to the developing situation in the region.”

The US Soccer Federation announced the decision Friday, a day after a US military air strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force, the overseas branch of the IRGC.

The Americans will move training to a site in the United States that has not yet been determined. They will use a roster of players mostly from Major League Soccer ahead of an exhibition against Costa Rica in February 1 at Carson, California.

The USSF said it hopes to train in Qatar in the future.

The head of the Revolutionary Guard’s foreign wing, or Quds Force, Gen. Qassim Soleimani, center, attends a meeting of a group of the Guard members with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, October 2, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

“We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar’s world-class facilities and hospitality,” USA Soccer said in its statement.

US Soccer had hoped the camp in Qatar would give players a chance to check out the country that will host the 2022 World Cup.

A decades-long US nemesis, Iran holds a range of options for striking back, militarily or otherwise, after the killing of Soleimani. Tens of thousands of American troops in the Persian Gulf area, including in Iraq and Qatar, are within easy range of Iranian missiles, and Iran has the capability to act more clandestinely with cyber attacks or military proxy strikes on US targets abroad.

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