Doha: FIFA President Gianni Infantino described preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as ‘impressive’ during a whistle-stop tour of the country this week.
Infantino met with tournament organisers and took part in a seven-a-side match at Al Bayt Stadium, a 60,000-capacity venue designed to resemble a traditional Arab tent. The striking arena will be inaugurated in the coming months and has been confirmed as the venue for the opening game of the tournament.
“It is an absolute pleasure to play football at this amazing stadium, where on 21 November 2022, we will kick off the greatest FIFA World Cup ever,” said Infantino.
“Al Bayt Stadium is incredible: a true football stadium. It has a real football feel and a local touch. The tented shape makes it truly unique, and the Arabic patterns in the roof are just beautiful. I am speechless.”
Preparations for Qatar 2022 have continued despite the pandemic following the implementation of stringent health and safety protocols to protect workers from COVID-19. Khalifa International, Al Janoub and Education City stadiums have all been inaugurated and are fully operational, with three others – Al Bayt, Al Rayyan and Al Thumama – in the final stages of construction. All eight venues will be completed well in advance of the tournament.
“I am very pleased with Qatar’s progress ahead of the tournament. We have seen the plans, but when you see the reality, it is even more impressive. Qatar has been able to continue to advance during the last six months while the world stood still – from infrastructure preparations to important developments such as the recent labour reforms announced by the government. If I was confident before, now I can say I am even more,” added Infantino.
“In 2022, everything will be close by and fans from all nationalities will have the opportunity to gather in the same public areas and enjoy Qatar’s mild temperatures at this time of the year. It’s a World Cup like no other was or ever will be.”
H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, echoed Infantino’s comments and said he was proud of the foundations laid by the country in the lead-up to the tournament.
“We are immensely proud to be hosting the Arab world and Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“With that pride comes a sense of responsibility, and that factor has been enhanced since the world has had to come to terms with COVID-19. We are optimistic that by kick-off in November 2022, we’ll be ready to welcome fans from every continent here in Qatar to celebrate together, united by their shared passion for football.”
Al Thawadi added: “It was a pleasure to welcome President Infantino to Al Bayt Stadium today. Al Bayt is particularly meaningful to us as it represents the town of Al Khor as well as the culture and history of Qatar through its special design. We’re all looking forward to the first ball of the FIFA World Cup 2022 being kicked in this stadium two years from now.”
Nasser Al Khater, CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, said Qatar was in excellent shape and looking forward to welcoming fans from all over the world in a little over two years’ time.
“When it comes to World Cup infrastructure, we’re in a great position, with construction nearing 90% completion across all projects,” said Al Khater. “At this point on the road to 2022, our focus is now shifting from delivering infrastructure to refining and optimising the detailed operational planning and fan experience for the tournament. We are also now significantly stepping up our promotion of the tournament to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to attend and enjoy this unique World Cup.”