June 5 – The Qatar 2022 organisers have announced the Education City Stadium in Doha as the third World Cup stadium to be completed.
Last December, local organisers pulled the stadium in Doha’s Al Rayyan district at the very last minute as a venue for the 2019 Club World Cup over crowd control concerns, following confusion in the Gulf Cup. At the time, organisers explained the postponement of the stadium’s opening as being due to a delay to certification.
The stadium’s matches were shifted to the Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar’s national stadium, but on Thursday Qatar’s Supreme Committee said that work on the venue has finally been completed.
To date the 2022 have completed an upgrade to the Khalifa International stadium while the the Al-Janoub stadium has been built and completed from scratch. Five stadiums remain under construction, with work on the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor very advanced.
The Education City venue will stage 2022 World Cup matches through to the quarter-finals. After the global finals, the plan is to dismantle the stadium in part and ship a portion of its 40,000 seats to developing nations.
The stadium’s completion coincides with the third anniversary of the Saudi-led blockade against Qatar. Saudi Arabia accused their neighbour of supporting radical Islamist groups, but Doha has consistently denied all claims or any wrongdoing. The economic blockade brought by the Saudis may have slowed some parts of the infrastructure build in Qatar but if anything it has focussed the local attention on delivery with a somewhat greater intensity.
Last month the head of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organising committee Hassan al-Thawadi told an online forum: “It was a blessing in disguise to a large extent because it forced us to be self-reliant and forced us to look inward. This forced us to become much more resilient and much more self-assured.”
While the Qataris have refocussed, the Saudi’s have similarly targeted sports as the country trys to change a global reputation that has nosedived with the kingdom in the spotlight for the murder of journalist of Jamal Khashoggi, its poor human rights record, restrictive regulations concerning women and the accusations of housing the BeoutQ piracy operation that has undermined the sports TV rights industry and threatened the economic lifeblood of sport and top tier football in particular.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1603530391labto1603530391ofdlr1603530391owedi1603530391sni@o1603530391fni1603530391