Doha, Qatar: With exactly four years for the World Cup in 2022, the first in the Middle East, to kick off, hosts Qatar are confident of delivering its promise of a unique tournament, and for good reason.
The preparations are well in place — the stadiums and other infrastructure development are on schedule, if not ahead of it despite a host of challenges and the authorities are making sure everything is functioning in a smooth way.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Secretary General HE Hassan Al Thawadi said it would be a momentous occasion for the whole Arab world.
“In four years’ time, 1.5 million fans will descend on Qatar from every corner of the globe and billions more will tune in on their TVs, smartphones and tablets to watch 28 days of football. It will be a momentous occasion for the teams participating, the fans watching, and, which is eagerly anticipating hosting the showpiece event of the most popular sport in the world for the first time ever,” said Al Thawadi.
“Football, more than any other sport, has the power to build bridges of understanding between people and cultures. With key tournament and national infrastructure projects on-schedule and each of our legacy initiatives proving a catalyst for positive change both locally and abroad, we are delivering on our promise of hosting a unique and transformational FIFA World Cup for Qatar, the region and the world.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the tournament had massive potential to break down cultural stereotypes and bring people together through football.
"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."
The recent World Cup in Russia set a high benchmark, said Infantino, who is expecting fans to receive a warm welcome in Qatar in 2022.
"There are many lessons we can learn from Russia," said Infantino. "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."