Qatar’s stock market fell sharply on Wednesday after Swiss authorities opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the award of rights to host the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups.
Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General said it suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Separately, six high-ranking soccer officials, including two vice-presidents of world governing body FIFA, were arrested by Swiss police on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States.
The Doha index dropped 2.3 per cent to a one-month low of 12,123 points in a broad sell-off. Heavyweight Qatar National Bank fell 3 per cent and Ezdan Holding, which had surged earlier this month because of its inclusion in MSCI’s emerging markets index, tumbled 5.7 per cent.
Although analysts have said that a potential loss of the World Cup hosting rights would have no major impact on Qatar’s economy, it is likely to affect the sentiment of retail investors who dominate stock markets in the Gulf.