Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah city has become the second 2022 FIFA World Cup venue to open its doors after hosting the final of the Amir Cup club competition on Thursday evening.

The stadium is the first Qatar 2022 venue to be built from scratch, following the redevelopment of Khalifa International Stadium, which was inaugurated in May 2017 for that year’s Amir Cup final.

The Qatar Football Association and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) welcomed the 40,000-capacity crowd for the game after a stadium inauguration ceremony for the venue, which is located 23km south of Doha city centre.

SC secretary general, Hassan Al Thawadi, said: “The launch of Al Janoub Stadium represents another momentous milestone on the road to 2022. During the bid we told the world to expect amazing and with this magnificent stadium launch – along with the six others to follow – I am proud to report we are delivering on that promise.

“To have completed this stadium with more than three years to go is another source of pride for us and our many stakeholders across the State of Qatar. I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is one of the most memorable editions in the tournament’s long and illustrious history.”

The stadium has a fully retractable roof, and features innovative technology that is capable of cooling the spectator areas to 18°C and the field of play to 20°C. The stadium will be reduced to a 20,000-seat venue after the World Cup, with the excess seats to be donated to football projects overseas.

The stadium, which was designed by Zaha Hadid and has been inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats, will host matches until the quarter-final stage of the World Cup. Following the tournament, it will serve as the new home of domestic Stars League team Al Wakrah Sports Club.

Yasir Al Jamal, vice-chairman of the Technical Delivery Office at the SC and chairman of the Host Country Operations Office, said: “I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this feat, including the SC team, our various contractors and consultants. A huge thank you also to all of the Qatari companies who have been involved in the construction of the stadium – we are proud that more than 50 per cent of the project budget was invested in the local economy.

“The successful delivery of Al Janoub Stadium wouldn’t have been possible without outstanding collaboration between the project team and our stakeholders across the country. We are very proud to have delivered a state-of-the-art venue that is sure to become a fans’ favourite in 2022.”

The opening of the stadium comes during a period in which FIFA is in the midst of deciding whether to expand beyond the 32-team format to 48 for the 2022 World Cup. FIFA has already announced that the 2026 tournament, which will be co-hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico, will feature 48 teams.

Images: SC