Iran is prepared to help Qatar host the soccer World Cup in 2022, and is offering to provide extra training space or even put whole islands at its disposal, Iranian Sport Minister Masud Soltanifar has said.
"We can assist with training facilities before the World Cup, especially with areas that provide similar climates to that of Qatar," he said in an interview on state TV on November 13.
Qatari officials said they are considering Iran's offer. If accepted, it would provide a major boost for Iran's economy at a time when the United States is trying to isolate Tehran and "squeeze" its economy.
Sites available to Qatar would include the islands of Qyrs or Qeshm or the town of Arvand, all of which are in southern Iran and easily accessible from Qatar, Soltanifar said.
Qatar's chief organizer of the games told AFP that the tiny Persian Gulf state was considering Iran's offer to host some World Cup teams on its territory.
"This is part of the operational plan, but obviously it will have to be done with FIFA," world soccer's governing body, chief organizer Hassan al-Thawadi said.
He told AFP that Qatar had received "numerous proposals from countries with regard to hosting teams."
"Nothing is decided on this matter yet, and it remains under discussion," he said.
The country's original pitch to host the tournament included plans to use facilities elsewhere in the gulf.
However, since 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt have imposed a sweeping embargo on Qatar, with its onetime allies accusing it of seeking closer ties with Iran and of supporting radical Islamist groups.
Qatar denies the charges, and Thawadi told AFP that he hoped Qatar's neighbors will lift the ban on their citizens visiting Qatar in time for the World Cup.