Qatar and FIFA to mark two years to World Cup 2022 kick-off

Qatar will be the first Middle East and Arab majority country to host football World Cup, promising a ‘unique experience’.

Khalifa International Stadium [Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy]

Football’s governing body FIFA and World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar will celebrate the two years to kick-off milestone online on Saturday, as the preparations for one of the globe’s largest sporting events continue apace amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The celebrations will take place across different digital platforms, with fans set to join from across the world, a statement from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said on Friday.

Qatar will be the first Middle East and Arab majority country to host the event, promising a “unique experience”.

“Among the many distinctive features, travelling fans will have the opportunity to potentially attend more than one match a day during the group stage, which will feature an exciting schedule with four daily fixtures, as announced earlier this year,” the statement read.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino praised Qatar’s preparations in what has been a challenging year during the pandemic.

“Despite the difficulties, steady progress was made in the last few months, showing yet again Qatar’s strong and continued commitment – under the leadership of the emir, whom I personally thank – to hosting an unforgettable FIFA World Cup in two years’ time, which will no doubt build a legacy long beyond 2022,” he said.

Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar [Courtesy: Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy]

Infrastructure on track

According to the committee, 90 percent of the infrastructure for the event is complete.

The tournament will feature eight stadiums, with construction on three of them completed, the committee said.

Three more tournament venues are in the final stages of construction: Al Rayyan, Al Bayt, and Al Thumama. The remaining two stadiums are set to be completed in 2021.

The first game of the tournament will take place at the Al Bayt Stadium, which will have a capacity of 60,000 people and is designed to resemble a traditional tent used in the Arab world.

Al Bayt Stadium, the venue for the first FIFA 2022 World Cup match [Courtesy of Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy]

Part of the preparations for the World Cup included the construction of Qatar’s first-ever underground railway system, which was opened to the public in May 2019.

The transport system was utilised by many during the FIFA Club World Cup in December.

The expansion of Qatar’s Hamad International Airport is also planned to accommodate some 50 million visitors a year by 2022.

Former Cameroon international and Barcelona player Samuel Eto’o, who serves as a global ambassador for the SC, said he was “sure fans will find many interesting places to visit when they arrive in this magnificent country in 2022”.

“I like the people in Qatar, they are open and sincere,” Eto’o said in an interview with the committee.

“I also like the fact you always feel safe and secure in Doha and throughout the country. These things should offer football fans a level of reassurance when they come to Qatar for the World Cup.”

Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the SC, said it was an incredibly important World Cup – “for Qatar, the region and the world”.

“Qatar 2022 will introduce billions of people to the Middle East and Arab world for the first time, and help to foster a greater understanding and break down stereotypes that people may have of our country and region.”

Source: Al Jazeera