Manchester United scrap Middle East training camp due to security fears

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester United have cancelled plans to travel to the Middle East in February due to security concerns and political tensions in the region.

Arab News reported that the Premier League club was considering Qatar, having trained at the Aspire Academy in Doha in 2013. The BBC reported that Dubai was also under consideration. Club manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this week told UK media that he will take his squad to either Spain or Portugal instead.

Solskjaer said: “Yes, there are things that worry me more than football. We were looking at the Middle East but that is definitely not going to happen. We will stay in Europe.”

Tensions in the Middle East have been raised by the US air strike that killed Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani last week, and the downing of a Ukraine International Airlines flight in Tehran by Iranian forces during a counter-attack against American bases.

United are to go on the winter training camp during a 16-day fixture-free period between February 1 and February 17.

Fellow Premier League club Arsenal are also reconsidering plans to spend a four-day mid-season break in Dubai, according to a report by The Guardian. Club manager Mikel Arteta said: “The security decision will be the priority. If we are advised by the club and the people making those decisions that it’s not safe, we won’t be going anywhere.

“We talked about different options in this break to go away and live together in a different environment with better weather conditions and a little bit away from here.

“We still have a few things to look after from a club perspective and when we know all that we will confirm what we are doing. At the moment we have two or three different options.”

Earlier this month, the US men’s soccer team also cancelled plans to train in Doha, with the US Soccer Federation saying it was “due to the developing situation in the region.”