The release of the match schedule for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is an important milestone, said Hassan al-Thawadi, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) yesterday.
Eight stadiums will host 64 matches, with Al Bayt Stadium holding the opening match of the tournament, which will feature the Qatar national team.
The final will be played at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium on December 18. “It is extremely important because before the Supreme Committee used to talk about future developments and infrastructure. Now, with almost everything in place it is great to announce the official schedule for the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” al-Thawadi said.
The SC Secretary-General said Qatar was well ahead in terms of preparation for the football extravaganza, which will be held for the first time in the Middle East. “Over the last 10 years we have always been talking about preparation. I’m very proud to say we’re very well advanced in terms of preparation. Most of the infrastructure projects are finalised, stadiums are coming into the pipeline gradually by the end of next year as well. So I think announcing the match schedule is a great milestone when it comes to operational preparedness for the tournament,” he said.
With four group matches scheduled every day for the first eight days of the World Cup – kick-off timings being 13:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00 – it also opens up the possibility of supporters attending more than one game per day as all venues lie within a 75-km radius. Kick-off times for the final rounds of group games – which kick-off simultaneously – and knock-out matches will be at 3pm and 7pm.
All eight stadiums will host at least one knockout match, with Al Rayyan Stadium, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium and Al Janoub Stadium not scheduled to host games after the last 16. Education City Stadium, Lusail Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium and Al Bayt Stadium will host the quarter-finals, with Al Bayt Stadium and Lusail Stadium also semi-final venues.
Al-Thawadi called the compact nature of the World Cup – the tournament being four days shorter than the last two World Cups – as special. “First, fans can watch more than one match in a day. It is special because stadiums are so close to each other. That is a great opportunity for fans to watch two games in a day – something that was not possible in other tournaments,” he said.
“Second, fans do not need to travel to follow their team. As soon as they reach Qatar, they can stay in one hotel and all they have to think about is the football matches. Third, this is the first FIFA World Cup to be hosted by a Middle Eastern Arab country. It is an opportunity to bring cultures together and for people from different backgrounds and nationalities to come together,” he added.
Scheduling four matches a day is going to be quite unique: CEO al-Khater
Meanwhile, Nasser al-Khater, Chief Executive Officer of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said hosting four matches per day will pose an operational challenge to the organisers but was confident it would be implemented perfectly.
“The World Cup in Qatar will uniquely have four matches played per day. Being a compact country, scheduling four matches a day is going to be quite unique, it’s going to give people the opportunity to attend more than one match per day. It does come with its challenges, which means we need to make sure that operationally we plan it right,” he said.
“We schedule matches depending on the locations of the stadiums, however a lot of the benefits are people who aren’t attending the World Cup get to watch the World Cup at very convenient times, just by the fact of Qatar’s location, in the region or in the world means that 3.5 billion people get to watch the World Cup at very convenient times,” al-Khater added.
The Qatar 2022 CEO revealed that 85 percent of work on the stadiums had been completed, while 90% of road and infrastructure projects have been met with. “We’re excited; I mean the whole team is excited with two years to go. Obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done. The past 10 years we were really focusing on infrastructure, whether they are the stadiums, the training sites, the road networks, the metro. All of that is coming nicely into place right now, with more than 90 percent of the work finished on the roads and in the infrastructure. When we talk about stadiums more than 85 percent of the work has been complete, and now the last two years we’re focusing on our operational readiness and making sure we get the fan experience plans in place,” he said.
Talking about the Al Bayt Stadium, the venue for the opening match of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, al-Khater said: “The opening match for the World Cup in Qatar 2022 will take place in Al Bayt Stadium, which is the northernmost stadium in Qatar and for this World Cup, it has a capacity of 60,000 spectators. It is a true symbol and reflection of our hospitality, of our culture here in Qatar and in the region. It resembles a tent which we call Bayt Al Shah ar, it’s a very impressive structure and we look forward to welcoming fans in 2022.”
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