Qatar is more ready to host a FIFA World Cup than any nation in history and will deliver the “best World Cup ever”, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said at a virtual event as the build-up to the global sporting showpiece enters its final year.
“I have been involved in several football events for the last few decades and I have never seen a country which is so ready host a World Cup as Qatar. Even a year ahead of the event, all the stadiums are ready. In terms of infrastructure, everything is ready, which means that for the next year we can focus on making sure every fan coming to Qatar will have an incredible experience in a welcoming part of the world, in a great country and in a great region," said Infantino while taking part in the Education City Speaker Series of Qatar Foundation (QF).
“It will not only be the best World Cup ever, but also a truly unique one.”
The webinar held to mark the one-year countdown to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – which kicks off on November 21, 2022 – heard how the tournament will create a cultural, social, and economic legacy for Qatar and the region, including through cruise ships that will act as ‘floating hotels’ for fans going on to play a post-World Cup role in boosting Qatar’s tourism and industry.
During the discussion, titled FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: The Countdown to History, QF and the FIFA Foundation announced a new partnership focused on inclusivity and engaging young people of different abilities through sport, including a Football for Schools app that will go global in 2022.
Speaking about how the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and the Arab world will support FIFA’s efforts to grow the global game, Infantino said: “Our vision at FIFA is really to make football truly global. We often say it is a global sport, but (when) you scratch beneath the surface, you realise that top professional football is still very concentrated between a few teams in Europe. We need to give more opportunities and more access to the world through football, and the Arab world, in this respect, is crucial in this.
“There is a population of 450mn people, and there is a great passion for football among the Arab world. I think it is absolutely fitting to have the World Cup here for the first time in history. I believe that World Cup, being such an amazing event, really has the power to inspire young generations and develop football at all different levels.
“We, at FIFA, in Qatar, and everyone that is part of the team organising the FIFA World Cup, want to really embrace sustainability, because we want to make football, and the impact that football has in the world, better from one World Cup to the next. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will really be a highlight, because we have the commitment from Qatar and that is something unique, that will be seen from now until the World Cup (finals), but much more importantly, after the World Cup as well.”
Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) who was a panellist at the event, noted that the mega sporting event will be a platform that brings people together and fosters human in-teraction. “The first football World Cup in the Middle East has given the opportunity for us to showcase the culture, heritage and the hospitality of this part of the world. People visiting us during the World Cup will learn more about the vibrant culture of this country and the entire Middle East,” he said.Al-Thawadi also noted that the preparations for the World Cup are in the final stretch. “We are in the last stretch of the preparations and the stadiums are complete and other infrastructure developments are in the final stages. "The operational preparations are the biggest test right now and we are working very closely with FIFA. We are getting ready to showcase the best of the Middle East and Qatar,” he explained.He also said that apart from construction, the major beneficiary of any big event is tourism. “Cultural tourism is where the Middle East event will have the biggest impact. The Arab world is known for its hospitality. We will be showcasing many of the initiatives and industries Qatar is well known for. We have some of the best museums as well as some of the fantastic initiatives of Qatar Foundation. We would like to shine a spotlight on some of them,” he pointed out.Machaille al-Naimi, president, Community Development at QF, said Qatar Foundation is playing a unique role in supporting the World Cup. “We are supporting the World Cup through many ways in areas such as sustainability, community development and research – all of which are core mission areas of QF. We see two roles in this: We are supporting the SC in achieving their objectives as we are aligned with those goals. We are also leveraging the echo system that we have. We are a city within a city with thousands of students, faculty researchers, among others. We have one of the eight stadiums inside our Education City. The Arab Cup is happening in the stadium with five matches. And next year, there will be eight games taking place at the venue,” al-Naimi highlighted.She also disclosed that Qatar Foundation will be hosting the international media broadcasting centre in the Education City, bringing in hundreds of journalists. “We have a lot of researchers working on multidisciplinary areas looking at things that relate to the World Cup. Some of them are connected with policies while some others are in terms of actual business. We have our own initiatives such as volunteering. We are making sure that all these leave a great legacy beyond the World Cup,” continued al-Naimi.Outlining other initiatives of QF, al-Naimi said that as the Qatar World Cup aims to be a very sustainable event, QF is also working on that. “We have over 14 schools and have launched a programme for K-12 for sustainability in the curriculum for embedding these values for generations to come. Moreover, the Education City stadium will be developed into a hub for sporting events in the Education City and we will get entities to have transfer of knowledge. Two of our schools will be housed in the stadium and that is a big legacy for us and the students who will be studying there,” added the official.During the discussion, moderated by QF editor-in-chief Michael Jabri-Pickett, al-Thawadi said the work of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s Josoor Institute to train sports and events experts can help to make this industry “a genuine economic driver” for the region after the tournament. He also explained how cruise and cargo ship firms whose vessels are to provide 6,000 rooms for fans next year will make Qatar a destination for their business operations after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, creating an economic legacy for the country.
“When we say we’re welcoming the world, we’re talking about the fans,” he said. “I hope that this will be a time that will always remain in their memories, and that bonds are formed that last long beyond 2022.
“There are many different ways of leaving a legacy, but ultimately what most of us look toward to is the positive memories, the relationships and bonds you form. People will engage with the experience of the rich heritage and culture that showcases the Arab world, not only Qatar, and I believe that’s how the Arab world will have a legacy from this tournament for years to come.”
Al-Thawadi noted that all the accommodation arrangements for the mega event have been finalised and all aspects specially taken care of. “It will be an event that will generate a positive bond between people of different regions and countries. The fans will leave the country with long-lasting relationships and memories celebrating Qatar and the entire Middle East,” he added.