Italy and France are locked in a battle to sell new naval vessels to Qatar, which is in a hurry to buy a defense kit as it prepares to host the Soccer World Cup in 2022.

The Italo-French clash took center stage last month at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) in Qatar when Italy’s defense minister thought she was about to sign a nonbinding agreement for the sale of corvettes, only for the ceremony to be postponed after French lobbying, sources knowledgeable of the event said.

The incident is the latest in a series of tussles over naval sales between France and Italy, two countries who have organized not one, but two joint ship-building programs in recent years. […]