A journey that began in December 2010 now only has less than two years to go.
Qatar as hosts have worked hard on bringing to reality the concepts and projects they highlighted in their winning bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, have been delivering infrastructure projects way ahead of time which is a rarity these days in other host countries, and are focussed on leaving a legacy at home and around the world.
As these efforts come to fruition, West Asia’s first hosting of the tournament will be both unique and exciting, promises FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 CEO Nasser al-Khater.
Qatar 2022’s roll out plan of the remaining five stadiums – what are the tentative timelines and has Covid-19 upset plans?
Nearly 90% of all tournament infrastructure has been completed – a degree of readiness that no FIFA World Cup host country has achieved this far out from the tournament kick-off date.
We have inaugurated three stadiums to date – including Khalifa International, Al Janoub and Education City – while our fourth, Al Rayyan, is set to be launched on December 18 two years out from the 2022 final. All remaining stadiums and supporting tournament infrastructure will be completed next year, well ahead of kick-off on November 21, 2022.
No doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic put the world in uncharted territory, and we had to adapt as is the case with all major projects around the world.
We implemented a proactive and robust prevention and mitigation strategy early in the crisis that contributed significantly towards reducing the spread of the virus amongst the workforce on World Cup projects, whilst maintaining the momentum of progress.
This included taking all necessary precautions for workers, in line with the Covid-19 preventative measures and interim guidelines recommended by Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
For example, masks and sanitisers were distributed across World Cup projects; workers’ temperatures are taken twice daily; a sufficient number of isolation rooms have been established on all SC sites; non-essential visitors to construction sites have been prohibited and awareness sessions were delivered to workers on all sites.
In addition, workers with chronic diseases and those over 55 have been temporarily taken off projects due to their vulnerability to Covid-19. These workers continue to receive their salaries in line with Qatari government policy.
We continue to review the situation on a daily basis.
Asia’s second FIFA World Cup has faced many challenges during preparations. What has been the most challenging to date?
Hosting any major sporting event of the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup no doubt brings with a variety of challenges.
However, we have generally looked at any challenge that we have faced as motivation and added responsibility to ensure the success of this tournament.
If I had to pick one, I would say the biggest challenge over the past ten years has been transforming the innovative concepts we presented in our bid for the tournament from vision to reality on the ground.
Today, with 10 years completed on our journey to 2022 and two years to go, I am proud and confident in saying that we will no doubt host an exceptional tournament that will make the Middle East, Asia and the entire footballing world proud.
A key priority for us has also been ensuring that the tournament accelerates social, environmental and economic development in Qatar, the region and Asia wherever possible, and leaves a lasting positive legacy.
Today, we are proud to say that we have also delivered against this, and will continue to do so in the lead up to and after 2022.
Whether through landmark workers’ welfare standards, increased economic collaboration between Qatar and Asia in constructing tournament and supporting infrastructure, better awareness of the importance of sustainable and environmentally friendly practices across various industries, or other legacy initiatives, the positive impact of this tournament can already be felt far and wide.
We are confident that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will not only be remembered for being a highly successful tournament, but one that heralded a new mega-event hosting model that future hosts nations can follow to ensure optimum and multifaceted benefit and return on investment for local and surrounding regions.
There are two main pan-Asian legacies of Qatar 2022. One, air-conditioned stadiums. And two, modular seating, dismantlable stadiums and FIFA-compliant training grounds for developing football nations. How do you see this panning out in the future?
Right from when we bid for the tournament, we committed to ensuring that it is one that leaves a lasting legacy for Qatar, Asia and the world, and supports the development of the game.
No doubt – the innovative cooling technology we developed is one way through which this can be achieved, and its positive impact is already being felt. For example, it recently enabled the resumption of the 2020 AFC Champions League despite temperatures in Qatar nearing 38 degrees centigrade in September, whereas temperatures inside the stadiums that hosted the tournament ranged between 21 and 22C.
Post-2022, we are open to share our knowledge and expertise regarding the cooling technology with other football associations from AFC nations. For example, it could be a consideration for the three East Asian giants – Japan, Korea and China – who already have wonderful infrastructure in place, but play a substantial chunk of their domestic seasons during the summer months.
In India, too, football is on the rise and infrastructure because of this as well as due to the hosting of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup is improving.
And while the Indian domestic season is not scheduled during the summer, many cities are along the coastline and humidity is a major factor. Therefore our cooling system will be of assistance to raise the levels of the players and game.
When it comes to the tournament’s training grounds, the pitches laid out at these facilities have the same type and quality of grass as those in FIFA World Cup stadiums. Three-time Asian champions Iran have already trained on the 2022 training facilities and so too have India ahead of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 last September. The facilities were also used during the Gulf Cup last year.
The Qatar Football Association have MoUs with many member FAs of the confederation, which entails extensive usage of Qatar’s football infrastructure by senior and age-group national teams of various AFC Member Associations. The ready availability of the training grounds will be an important aspect in the post-2022 technical development of many Asian football nations.
Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor will host the opening match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on November 21.
The first Asian FIFA World Cup was hosted in the East in Japan and Korea. How important is it for the FIFA World Cup to be staged in different continents and cultures?Last updated: November 21 2020 11:56 PM
Over the last few decades, football has grown to become a sport that has garnered huge interest and investment from all around the world, and not only from traditional footballing powers in Europe and South America.
This is especially true in Asia, where we have seen how the sport has enabled the building of world-class infrastructure and teams. When you combine this with the widespread passion for the game across Asia, you have a strong partner in the continent that actively contributes to the growth and development of global football – starting at the grassroots level and through to the game’s showpiece event – the FIFA World Cup. And for the game to truly grow, it has to be done through a global approach, which necessitates hosting it on a continental rotation system.
We must also recognise the role the world’s largest sporting event can play in bridging cultures, correcting stereotypes and enhancing mutual understanding between people from all around the globe. We saw this for example in Japan and Korea in 2002, where the tournament was not only a celebration of football but also of East Asian cultures.
In 2022, we want everyone to not only enjoy incredible football on the pitch, but also experience our renowned hospitality, learn about our culture and traditions, and leave Qatar with a better understanding of the region’s people and their peaceful, humorous, passionate and hospitable nature.
The compact nature of Qatar 2022 will make it a unique experience for Asian fans. West Asian fans are football mad and fans from China and India were in the top three of nations whose fans visited Russia 2018 despite their teams not qualifying. What message do you have to fans from the AFC region wanting to come to Qatar?
We are certain that Qatar 2022 will be a unique FIFA World Cup, with a compact nature that will mean the entire tournament will be an unparalleled football and cultural festival where fans and visitors will make lifelong memories along every touch point and experience.
It will be the first time in the history of the tournament where fans can get to watch more than one match per day, all whilst still being able to soak in the culture, sights and sounds of Qatar. During non-match days, there will be sun, sand and beaches to enjoy and delicious Arabic, Persian, Indian, Chinese and Thai cuisines available in plenty to sample.
For many fans in Asia, it will also be the closest FIFA World Cup to attend in recent years, and the first truly global football festival in the post-Covid world that will bring the game’s fans back together.
So our message is simple – we look forward to seeing you all here in 2022!(AFC)