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World Cup organisers claim stadium capacity ‘in excess of 96%’

Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar

Local organisers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup have claimed they have delivered on their winning bid’s promise to ‘Expect Amazing’ after this year’s tournament concluded in Qatar yesterday (Sunday).

Argentina ultimately prevailed in a penalty shoot-out against France, after the game ended 3-3 following extra time, in what was widely considered one of, if not the, greatest final in World Cup history.

Ahead of the game, organisers announced that more than 1.4 million fans from across the globe had visited Qatar for the World Cup 2022. The final itself drew an officially announced attendance of 88,966 at Lusail Stadium, capacity at the showpiece venue of the World Cup, with tournament organisers announcing before kick-off that cumulative attendance was set to reach 3.4 million, meaning an average attendance of 53,000 fans per match and overall capacity in excess of 96%.

However, official attendance figures have been widely disputed throughout the tournament, and yesterday’s final drew questions, and criticism, as the second half opened to swathes of empty seats in full view of the global TV audience.

Indeed, the World Cup saw stadium capacities revised during the opening days of the tournament as questions were raised over attendance announcements. Lusail Stadium itself saw its official capacity lifted by almost 10% from 80,000 to 88,966.

Qatar 2022 claimed yesterday (Sunday) that “many thousands” of fans attended more than one match per day due to the compact nature of the tournament, with all eight stadia located within an hour’s journey time of central Doha.

Meanwhile, speaking at Friday’s FIFA Council meeting, FIFA president Gianni Infantino hailed Qatar 2022 as the “best ever” World Cup, adding that the tournament saw “football reinforce its unique cohesive power by uniting the world in a spirit of peace and friendship”.

H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and chairman of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said: “In 2010, we told the world to ‘Expect Amazing’ – and we have delivered on that promise in spectacular fashion. This has been an incredible edition of the FIFA World Cup – and one that will set a benchmark for future mega event hosts.

“We are very proud to have hosted a compact, accessible and family-friendly FIFA World Cup. This tournament has provided a platform for cultural exchange on a level not seen before in history. Fans from far and wide experienced Qatari and Arab culture for the first time and were always in the thick of the action – never far from a stadium, accommodation or entertainment activation.

“The feedback we have had from all stakeholders, including fans, players, the media, volunteers and tournament officials, has been overwhelmingly positive. Smooth transport operations have made it easy to get around and everybody has immersed themselves in the party atmosphere across the country.

“We have no doubt this tournament will leave a huge legacy for the country and region – socially, economically and environmentally.”