The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has the potential to be the best ever, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who this week toured each of the tournament’s eight stadia.
Infantino visited the 40,000-seat Al Wakrah Stadium and later took a helicopter ride to the other seven proposed venues. Al Wakrah Stadium is scheduled to host matches up to the quarter-final stage of the World Cup.
Infantino’s tour of the venues coincided with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy releasing a video to detail the progress of its stadia, with the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha so far the only venue that is ready to host matches.
Speaking at the Al Wakrah Stadium, Infantino said: “The stadium here is very impressive. When you enter here you can immediately feel how imposing it is, and you can see the progress which is being made here four years before kick-off.”
He added: “I think this World Cup is extremely important, not only for Qatar but for the whole region – a region that has a passion for football and is investing a lot in the game.
“This World Cup is a unique opportunity – a chance to show the world what this region can offer; for football, but also for anybody in the world to come and visit a beautiful place, learn about a new culture and meet new people. In this world, especially in the current climate, it is very much needed that we open our doors and discover new places.”
On the lessons FIFA and Qatar can learn from the recent World Cup in Russia, Infantino said: “The first one is how to welcome so many people – 1.5 million people came to Russia to enjoy the World Cup and they were all welcomed in a way that was unexpected to many. There were many fears about Russia, but it turned out to be a very safe World Cup, a very welcoming World Cup, in a country that made fans feel good.
“The whole population contributed to that and I’m sure the same will happen here in Qatar. The Russian World Cup was the best ever, and the World Cup in 2022 has to be even better.”
Meanwhile, Qatar’s environment minister has claimed that the 2022 World Cup will be a carbon-neutral event, with the country having placed strict standards on the design and construction of infrastructure.
“The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has been working on planning and organising a carbon-neutral 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament,” Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Eumaihi said, according to the AFP news agency.