FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Tuesday said the 2018 World Cup (WC) in Russia has been the best ever, but the 2022 event in Qatar will be even better.
During a whistle-stop tour of the country on Tuesday, he praised Qatar’s infrastructure progress and described the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a “unique opportunity for football fans to experience a new culture and region”, FIFA.com reported.
Infantino visited the 40,000-capacity Al Wakrah Stadium before taking a helicopter ride to view the other seven proposed tournament venues, along with several training sites.
“The stadium is very impressive. When you enter here, you can immediately feel how imposing it is, and you can see the progress that is being made here four years before kick-off,” the FIFA president told the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) website, sc.qa.
“I think this World Cup is extremely important, not only for Qatar but (also) for the whole region. This World Cup is a unique opportunity – a chance to show the world what this region can offer; for football, but also for anybody in the world to come and visit a beautiful place, learn about a new culture and meet new people,” he added, before pointing out that the recent World Cup in Russia set a high benchmark.
“There are many lessons we can learn from Russia. The first one is how to welcome so many people – 1.5mn people headed to Russia to enjoy the World Cup and they were all welcomed in a way that was unexpected to many,” he said. “There were many fears about Russia, but it turned out to be a very safe World Cup, a very welcoming World Cup, in a country that made fans feel good. The whole population contributed to that and I’m sure the same will happen here in Qatar.
“The Russian World Cup has been the best ever, but the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar – I am sure – will be even better.”
Infantino arrived in Al Wakrah after becoming one of the first people to travel on the new Doha Metro. He travelled from the DECC (Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre) station in West Bay to Al Wakrah, a journey south that took approximately 20 minutes.
Qatar had launched its first tournament-ready venue - the Khalifa International Stadium - back in May 2017. The other venues, including the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, which will host the opening match and final in 2022, are all scheduled to be completed by 2020.
“As always, it’s a pleasure to welcome the FIFA president back to Qatar to witness the huge progress we are making. This has been a landmark visit, with him experiencing the Doha Metro for the first time and visiting Al Wakrah Stadium, which we are looking forward to launch in the very near future,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the SC, who accompanied Infantino on his tour together with HE the Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti and Qatar Rail managing director and CEO Abdulla Abdulaziz al-Subaie.
“Today we welcomed @FIFAcom president Gianni Infantino to Al Wakrah Stadium, where he was briefed on the progress of the venue, which is due to be completed soon,” the SC tweeted.
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