Fans will have a unique experience in Qatar, says FIFA events chief Smith
February 25 2020 11:59 PM
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Q: Where does Qatar stand with 1,000 days to go to the FIFA World Cup?
A: All the stadiums will be finished well in time before the event and this gives us a unique opportunity to test the stadiums operationally and to use them much more ahead of time than we’ve had the opportunity in the past. From the infrastructure perspective, Qatar has been working now for years preparing for the World Cup so they’ve brought forward key infrastructure projects; metros, road networks, and the progress is impressive. So all in all we’re very confident, we’re working very closely with Qatar on the delivery, we’re integrating the different planning of host country operations and our match operations and we’re very confident that we’ll deliver a successful World Cup in a thousand days. 
 
Q: What is FIFA currently focusing on with regard to the 2022 World Cup?
A: As we move closer and we count down towards the tournament, planning becomes more operational so we’re moving from working with maps and plans to working with physical infrastructure. The Joint Venture team that we have in Qatar is increasing in size and they are able then to work across all these different operational areas. The teams are becoming more active as well, the teams who are obviously hoping to qualify, many have already visited Qatar and looked at the different facilities that they have in terms of team hotels, base camps. We’ve published the first round of team base camps and we’ll continue to update that over the year ahead. And very importantly, we’re bringing our stakeholders closer to Qatar as well and sharing with them the operational planning and bringing them closer to how to improve their planning as well. So Commercial Affiliates, we had the workshop last year, the end of last year, with all our sponsors and partners. And there was the first broadcaster workshop earlier this year. So again this allows us to learn from our key stakeholders; what do they need? What makes a successful tournament for them? And that then helps us, together with the Joint Venture in Qatar, deliver according to their expectations.
 
Q: What did FIFA learn from Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA Club World Cup 2019? What do you want to improve for this year’s edition and for the FIFA World Cup?
A: It’s always good to have test events, no matter how small they are, and obviously the FIFA Club World Cup, in its current format, is a much smaller event than the FIFA World Cup. But nevertheless it gives a great opportunity for us to work in new stadiums; we used Khalifa Stadium. It gives us an opportunity to work with the authorities, to integrate the teams from the host country, the FIFA teams and working on the ground in terms of operational. So there are always areas that we can improve on, there are areas that we can observe, areas such as how’s the spectator flow? How many people used the metro? It was more than what was expected which is fantastic to see, it’s a great network.
So we’re able to observe these areas, security checks, can we improve the flows, can we improve the speed of these checks? How do people move in and around the venue? So any opportunity to work in the stadiums, to work with infrastructure networks, road networks, metros provides an important insight to us in our planning for the World Cup.
 
Q: What do you think fans will be most excited about when they touch down in Qatar in 2022?
A: Those of you who know the Middle East, it’s an exciting mix and blend of modern, contemporary but also the traditions and history and Qatar is no exception to that, there’s a very exciting melting pot of different nationalities. So fans are going to have a unique event experience. I mean, the compact nature, having all the stadiums so close together, fans can visit multiple matches and many more matches than they would under a traditional World Cup. So I think it’s the blend of hospitality that they will receive as soon as they set foot in the country, the compact nature allowing them to see multiple matches and also the cultural activities that will go on around the World Cup, from concerts, fan fests, visiting museums, the dunes, the desert, there’s a rich fabric of activities for people to explore and discover if they’re not already familiar with it. 
 
Q: What advice you would give fans that cannot book their tickets yet, 1,000 days ahead of the event?
A: Keep your eye on Qatar, we’ll be sharing obviously all the information as we count down from a thousand days. Follow your teams in the qualifiers; we’ve had about 136 matches out of 900, in Africa and Asia. We’ve CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and OFC kicking off later this year, so follow your team, the excitement will build towards ’22. And come to Qatar for the Club World Cup this year, in December. You can already discover the country and the tournament ahead of 2022.



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