Qatar preparations for FIFA World Cup ‘impressive’ , says Infantino

Doha: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has described as ‘impressive’ Qatar preparations for the 2022 World Cup – which will be the first one to be held in the Middle East – according to a report published on Wednesday on the website.

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The head of the football governing body who was on a whistlez-stop tour of Qatar interacted with the tournament organizers and also took part in the seven-a-side football match at Al Bayt Stadium, the yet to be inaugurated stadium which will host the opening ceremony of the FIFA show piece event.

“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, about the 60,000-capacity venue designed to resemble a traditional Arab tent.

“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,” added Infantino.

Qatar, which will be the first country in the Middle East to host the football World Cup has continued its infrastructure preparations for Qatar 2022 despite the pandemic following the implementation of stringent health and safety protocols to protect workers from COVID-19.

“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.

The 2022 World Cup, will be held in eight stadiums and will be held in November- December period. The hosts of the next football extravaganza have completed three World Cup venues while another three slated to be completed by the end of next year.

“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,” he added.

The Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar’s oldest stadium, was renovated and reopened in 2017 with a 40,000-seat capacity. Al Janoub Stadium became the first FIFA World Cup ready venue to be built from scratch when it opened in 2019. In June, Education City Stadium with a capacity of 40,000 seats was opened.

Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said work on the infrastructure front is moving at a right pace.

“We are immensely proud to be hosting the Arab world and Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup in 2022,” said Al Thawadi.

“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,” he added.

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.”

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