FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup “stand where no other host did before” as the country prepares to inaugurate three more stadia for the tournament this year.

World football’s governing body and Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) yesterday (Tuesday) marked the 1,000-day countdown to the World Cup by providing an update on the massive infrastructure project involved in staging the tournament.

Two stadiums are already fully operational – Khalifa International reopening in May 2017 after redevelopment and Al Janoub Stadium inaugurated in May. Three more venues – Education City, Al Rayyan and Al Bayt – will be inaugurated this year.

The SC said construction work on Education City Stadium was completed in December. The 40,000-capacity venue, nicknamed the ‘Diamond in the Desert’, is proposed to host matches up to and including the quarter-finals stage during Qatar 2022. Delivered by Pattern Architects following initial design by FIA Fenwick Iribarren Architects, it is the first Qatar 2022 venue to achieve a five-star design and build rating from GSAS.

The SC stated construction work on the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor has been completed, with its surrounding Al Bayt Park opening earlier this month. Proposed to host matches up to and including the semi-finals stage, the stadium has been designed by Dar Al-Handasah to resemble a traditional Arab tent known as ‘bayt al sha’ar’. Following the World Cup, 28,000 seats from the stadium will be donated to developing countries.

For Al Rayyan Stadium, the concrete frame and roof installation have been completed. Work on the upper-tier stands is approaching completion, while more than half of the façade columns have been installed. Some 85% of the old Al Rayyan Stadium has been reused in the new 40,000-seat development. Designed and delivered by Pattern Architects, the stadium is proposed to host matches up to and including the quarter-finals stage.

For the three remaining venues, the SC said construction work on Al Thumama Stadium and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is scheduled for completion this year, with Lusail Stadium to follow in 2021. Commenting on the status of Qatar’s preparations, Infantino said: “With 1,000 days to go, Qatar stands where no other host did before. Qatar wants to amaze the world and is on track to achieve it.

“The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be a breakthrough from a social and cultural perspective. It will open the doors of this football-mad region, offering a new perspective to locals and foreigners, bringing people together and serving as a tool for common understanding.”

H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, added: “Ten years of our lives, day in, day out, have been dedicated to this tournament. Personally, I can only look forward with excitement, as well as some nerves, but more importantly, conviction that this will be – without a doubt – the best tournament. We are determined to ensure that the first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world will set a benchmark in the history of hosting major sporting events.”

Qatar and FIFA have been scrutinising lessons learned from the Club World Cup, held in December last year, and which will return to the country later in 2020. According to local authorities, the tournament brought over 50,000 international fans into the country. The event’s official fan zone welcomed 43,000 visitors over the course of the tournament.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 chief executive, Nasser Al Khater, added: “With all our infrastructure projects on track, one of our key priorities now is to shape the fan experience in 2022.

“We are determined to host a tournament which is welcoming to all and family-friendly, and one that shows our country and region in the most positive light. We learned a lot from the Club World Cup across every functional area and will apply the lessons learned in the 2020 edition and in our 2022 planning.”

 Images: Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy