The World Starts Looking at Qatar 2022

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(WFI) It's official now: the next World Cup in Qatar 2022 will be held between November 21 and December 18.
Khalifa Stadium will be one of the centerpieces of the 2022 World Cup (Wikimedia)

Yes, those dates will disrupt most of the national leagues and tournaments around the world, but according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, they simply “will have to adapt”.

It means leagues in most countries, certainly in Europe, will have to break for several weeks before the tournament to allow national teams to prepare for the event and for a few days after to allow the players to rest. 

Discussions are ongoing as to whether Infantino gets his way and Qatar plays host to the first 48-team World Cup. But even if that doesn't happen, the 2022 edition will certainly be unique in other respects. Besides being the first World Cup to be held outside the warm Northern Hemisphere months, FIFA's flagship tournament is also the first to be organized in the Middle East while Qatar, which has never qualified for a World Cup, is by far the smallest country to host.

In fact, all of the Qatar 2022 World Cup games will be concentrated in or around the capital, Doha. The two most remote stadiums, Al Bayt and Al Wakrah, are 90 miles apart. That opens the possibility for the fan to watch more than one game a day. The 2022 World Cup will certainly feel more like the Olympic Games… on steroids.

For now the timetable set for the completion of the stadia progresses. Khalifa International Stadium, has been operative for a while and by the end of this year, according to organizers, two more stadia will be finished. Next year plans call for the completion of five of the eight stadiums. By 2020 all eight should be completed including Lusail Stadium, site of the first and final games of the tournament.

To accommodate the 1.5 million fans expected for the 2022 tournament, the organizers have confirmed to World Football Insider that the infrastructure will be upgraded. There will be a new metro with three lines and 37 stations that will be the primary mode of transportation for the visitors; also an expansion of Hamad International Airport, increasing its capacity to over 50 million per year or 200,000 per day; and the upgrading of Qatar’s entire road network. That also includes upgrading the quality and quantity of hotels, museums and a myriad of other tourist attractions that are being built to accommodate the country’s flourishing tourism industry.

However even with those improvements, accommodating the influx of visitors will certainly be a challenge. Some have suggested docking giant cruise ships in the Doha port or even in case of a room shortage, others have considered setting up economical tent cities in the nearby desert.

On the political front, every World Cup host has to go through certain scrutiny and Qatar is no exception. Its human rights record towards migrant workers has been far less in the news lately with the event organizers claiming that the country has significantly improved the plight of its immigrant population.

"We’re committed to ensuring safe and healthy working and living conditions for all of our workers, and protecting their health, safety, security and dignity is of the utmost importance to us,”  says Nasser Al Khater, Assistant Secretary General of the Tournament Affairs.

“We have a dedicated Workers’ Welfare Division responsible for implementing our Workers’ Welfare Standards that were developed in close consultation with international human rights groups. These are contractual standards that every contractor has to sign up to,” added the Qatari official.

According to Al Khater, Qatar has more than 28,000 workers on-site today and their rights are monitored by a four-tier auditing process to ensure safe and healthy working and living conditions for all involved in the construction of the stadiums. This includes independent assessments by their external third party auditor, Impactt Ltd., and unannounced visits by a team of Workers’ Welfare Officers.

Qatar's organizers also work with the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) trade union to inspect all stadium and accommodation precincts.

As far as the current state of tension between Qatar and some its neighbors, Al Khater is confident that football will help patch their differences.
“We are confident that the World Cup will not only show the best of the region to the rest of the world and project a true image of it as a peaceful and hospitable region, but also provide a platform for people to celebrate their differences rather than dwell on them. If North and South Korea can come together at the Winter Olympics, so can the Middle East at the first Arab World Cup.”

Homepage photo: Wikimedia

By INSIDER Javier Monne

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