February 25 – Qatar will open three more of its World Cup 2022 stadiums this year, adding to the two already open. That will leave three more for completion, including the Lusail Stadium that will host the opening game and final.
Khalifa International and Al Janoub stadiums are already open. Education City, Al Rayyan and Al Bayt will be inaugurated this year, said a joint FIFA/Qatar 2022 press release.
Alongside the stadia, a programme of infrastructure build has seen the opening of a new metro system that was in operation for the Club World Cup (CWC) last December. “New roads and training sites are being completed, the airport expanded and permanent and temporary accommodation will be delivered with the aim of coping with demand while also considering post-event use,” said the press release.
There are now 1,000 days to go to the World Cup 2022 kick off with the first significant test of the country’s infrastructure build having been the CWC. Qatar for the most part passed that test with flying colours, despite having to change the venue of the tournament’s showpiece final because the Education City Stadium is not ready.
The Khalifa International Stadium hosted both the final and the two semi-finals. Organisers say the tournament brought over 50,000 international fans into the country while the event’s official fan zone welcomed 43,000 visitors.
The only reported issue arising was around ticketing, and in particular the corporate ticketing for the rearranged final venue, where clubs were left embarrassed as sponsor tickets arrived late with many unsure of whether they would even get into the game two hours before kick-off. That was a problem neither FIFA or the Qatari organisers took ownership of, leaving red-faced club marketing teams to deal with the fall-out. The CWC 2020 will again be held in Qatar giving the organisers plenty of time to iron out the issues – and more stadium options to play with.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s effusive assertion that “Qatar wants to amaze the world and is on track to achieve it,” looks accurate. “The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be a breakthrough from a social and cultural perspective. It will open the doors of this football-mad region, offering a new perspective to locals and foreigners, bringing people together and serving as a tool for common understanding,” he said.
With confidence high that all stadia will be complete and tested well before 2022 – itself a major step forward and relief for FIFA organisers after the stadium build challenges of Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018 – focus is now turning to
“With all our infrastructure projects on track, one of our key priorities now is to shape the fan experience in 2022. We are determined to host a tournament which is welcoming to all and family-friendly, and one that shows our country and region in the most positive light. We learned a lot from the Club World Cup across every functional area and will apply the lessons learned in the 2020 edition and in our 2022 planning,” said Nasser Al Khater, chief executive 0fficer of the Q22.
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