Qatar 2022 World Cup preparations bang on course

Tuesday May 21 2019

Qatar World Cup 2022 venue Al Wakrah Stadium. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGES |

Qatar World Cup 2022 venue Al Wakrah Stadium. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGES |  

By NICHOLAS MUSONYE

A few years ago, Qatar was restless and not sure whether the Fifa 2022 World Cup would be held in the country.

That was when there was uncertainty and clear threats on their ability to host a successful World Cup.

Now almost nine years after being controversially awarded the world’s most prestigious single-sport event, Qatar are settled and confident they will deliver the tournament and fulfil their dream of uniting the world.

The bid process was intense, expensive and cut-throat. The tiny Middle East nation had to face stiff challenge from the world powers including USA, Australia, Japan and Korea —- all claiming to have the power and resources to stage the event.

By the time Qatar was awarded the rights to host the event, the country’s population was just 1.6 million people. Some of the losing bids have never moved.

The looked at, Qatar, a country that has never played at the World Cup and never hosted any major global event and wondered how?

Thus they have persistently challenged Qatar’s credentials to host the World Cup.

Despite the odds from within the neighbourhood and elsewhere, Qatar have shown their true character as an emerging nation ready to stage a compact World Cup.

For the past nine years, the country whose population has now hit three million have left nothing to chance to putting in place a tournament that will pass muster.

The ruling elite have managed to pull all the resources together to confirm that they are capable of providing a unique and compact World Cup.

The restless critics of Qatar went further to claim that the Middle East country were not suitable to host the event in the traditional months of June and July, saying that the temperatures would be too high to safely play the game.

This challenge has been a big concern for Fifa and Qatar with European countries unhappy with the dates.

The issue of the dates has been sorted out and now the World Cup will be staged from November 21 to December 18 when the weather is more favourable to the players and the visitors.

Even then, Qatar had a plan B by constructing stadiums with sophisticated cooling systems powered by solar energy.

Other challenges presented and pursued by human Rights groups regarding labour conditions for immigrants and homo-sexuality have been dealt with.

What has Qatar done to convince the world of their capability? The Qatar Football Association formed a strong committee known as the Supreme committee for Delivery and Legacy to ensure that the process of organising the 2022 World cup is smooth and flawless.

The mandate of the Committee is elaborate. However it focuses mainly on the overall objective of delivery of a successful event and leave behind a legacy that will be remembered for years to come.

The committee formed by the Emir himself is responsible for the construction of stadiums, training grounds and the entire infrastructure that will see the 2022 World cup played without any hitch.

The infrastructure the committee has undertaken include roads, highways, bridges, underground tunnels, hospitals and railways. To ensure that this is implemented successfully, all the relevant Ministries have been looped in to make sure that there is proper coordination and resources are mobilised collectively.

The key Ministries that have been engaged include the office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Interior, Ministries of Finance, Planning/Municipalities, Youth/sports, Transport, Communications and ICT.

The supreme committee has set 2020 as the year all the venues will be ready for the World show piece, two years ahead of the event.

According to the Supreme committee, which reports directly to the Emir, the stadiums have been fitted with modern and high level cooling systems which will be used in case the temperatures soars unexpectedly during the World cup.

Five of the eight stadiums identified and approved by Fifa are ready, while the remaining three will fit for use by early 2020. The stadiums that are going to used are — The Lusail Stadium, the biggest stadium in Qatar with a capacity to seat 80,000 people.

Al Khalifa and Al Wakrah Stadium have already been inaugurated and have been hosting exhibition matches. they have a capacity of 40,000.

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Qatar University Stadium, Al Bayt, Al Thamana and Al Rayan stadia are 80 per cent ready.

Four of the stadia are demountable, meaning that they will be remodelled after the World Cup and used for different purposes.

These stadiums have been built out of shipping containers and modular blocks that are easily demounted. According to Qatari organisers, these stadiums will be used as malls, schools/colleges, museums, hospitals etc.

The Supreme committee will identify poor countries lacking in infrastructure and deliver the demounted parts to assist in developing them into small stadiums. This will be another legacy of the 2022 World Cup.

Never before has Fifa done an inspection visit and left satisfied as they did in Qatar early this year. Qatar has constructed over 30 natural grass training grounds — all situated near the match venues.

According to Mohamed Hassan Al-Obaidy, the Supreme committee project manager for training grounds, all the sites are ready. “We have developed these model facilities all over Qatar and we want each team to have its own training ground,” he told the media as they toured the magnificent Qatar University complex.

Asked what will happen after the World Cup. He responded: “They will be converted to camps, training centres, clubs training grounds, Universities centres for sports etc. Nothing will be wasted. And that is the legacy we want to leave behind.”

According to the Supreme Committee, Qatar will spent a handsome $8.5 billion (about Sh850 billion) on stadiums, the highest in the history of the World cup.

The Government of Qatar has invested massively in the transport sector. Highways, flyovers, bridges and underground tunnels are being constructed daily.

But the most significant investment is the Doha metro shuttle. According to the Supreme Committee, the train shuttle will connect all the stadiums in Qatar and has already opened 37 stations across the country. By 2020, the Supreme committee envisages to increase the stations to 135 to cover all the whole country.

During the final of the 2019 Emir Cup on Thursday, the Supreme Committee on Delivery and Legacy, invited hundreds of dignitaries, football legends and the media to show case their readiness to host the World Cup.

A colourful ceremony was held that also marked the grand opening of Al Wakrah stadium. Legends the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Louis Figo, Ruud Gullit, Pablo Zabaleta, Cafu were in attendance and were impressed. Qatar will be ready for the World Cup.

Musonye is the Secretary General of Cecafa and a journalist

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