FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the most accessible World Cup ever, stressed the FIFA president Sunday.
“I like to highlight two things at the outset. The first one is that FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the best World Cup ever. Furthermore it will be the most accessible World Cup in the history of the tournament,” Gianni Infantino said.
Infantino was speaking at the 5th edition of the Accessibility Forum (A Tournament for All) organised by The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and its stakeholders at Multqa at the Education City of Qatar Foundation (QF). Members of the disabled community and senior leadership from SC including HE Hassan al- Thawadi, Secretary General, SC and FIFA took part in the forum.
“From the very beginning of our journey to host this historic tournament, our commitment to accessibility has been unwavering. Not only did we work diligently to see that stadiums and tournament sites met the highest accessibility standards, we also actively involved the disabled community to make sure the World Cup creates a lasting legacy for the disabled community beyond Qatar 2022,” said al-Thawadi.
“As a result of our work, we now see a marked improvement in the environment for disabled people to access transportation, cultural sites and public spaces across the country. I am very proud of this legacy and look forward to the community building on these gains in the future. For fans attending the tournament, they will experience a number of accessibility features to ensure everyone feels a part of the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world,” highlighted al-Thawadi.
Qatar 2022 will feature a number of firsts for disabled fans, including the availability of audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at all matches. Three stadiums will host sensory rooms for fans with sensory access requirements, while every match venue was built to exacting accessibility standards, including accessible parking, seating, bathrooms and concession stands.
Infantino said that FIFA’s goal is to provide inclusive and accessible infrastructure for all fans.
“Last two years, we have been working with the SC to ensure that all the training sites as well as the stadiums are accessible to disabled people. Accessibility requirements were an integral part of all the planning process. We are trying to provide all the accessibility requirements in the stadiums, in transportation, in accommodations as well as in fan zones,” explained Infantino.
The SC has worked in partnership with FIFA and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to prioritise accessibility throughout tournament preparations in line with the FIFA Sustainability Strategy. The SC launched the Accessibility Forum in 2016, with members playing an active role in providing feedback on the SC’s infrastructure projects, working towards meeting FIFA Accessibility and inclusive design standards while helping to drive the accessibility agenda in Qatar.
As well as being available to fans in the stands, audio descriptive commentary will also be accessible to fans across the globe in Arabic and English via a dedicated mobile application. Sensory rooms will be operational at Al Bayt, Lusail and Education City during the tournament allowing fans to watch matches in a quieter space, equipped with assistive technology and managed by expert staff. This will be the largest deployment of sensory rooms at a mega sporting event in history.
Faisal al-Kohaji, Accessibility Forum member and chairperson of the Qatar Social Cultural Club for the Blind, said the tournament’s accessible legacy had been felt long before the opening match at Al Bayt Stadium.
“What we have seen in the area of accessibility since Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup has been life-changing for the disabled community. We now have a modern transportation network that is equipped for all different needs, as well as greater accessibility in museums, shopping destinations and public spaces,” said al-Kohaji.
“QF has made accessibility and inclusion a priority within our schools and programmes since its inception, and our contribution to the commitment the country has made for Qatar 2022 to be the most accessible World Cup ever reflects this,” added Alexandra Chalat, director of World Cup Legacy, QF.