(Update: adds remarks)
Madrid, Aug 12 (EFE).- With just 100 days left until the start of the Fifa World Cup in Qatar, which was brought forward on Thursday from November 21 to 20, the Gulf country is eagerly awaiting the start of the historic event, the first time soccer’s biggest tournament will be held in the Middle East.
All the infrastructure has been completed ahead of the September 9 inauguration of the Lusail stadium, the largest venue with an 80,000-seat capacity, which will host the World Cup final on December 18.
As is tradition, the hosts, Qatar, will open the competition in a match against Ecuador at the Al Bayt stadium, at which 32 delegations will participate and which will start a day earlier than planned.
“The Fifa World Cup 2022 will kick off with an even greater celebration for local and international fans as host country Qatar will now play Ecuador on Sunday 20 November at 19:00 as part of a stand-alone event,” the organization said.
The earlier start date does not mean any setback for Qatar in terms of organization and infrastructure, as the construction of all the stadiums has been completed with plenty of room for maneuver.
Eight stadiums will host the Qatar 2022 World Cup matches, six of them newly built and two remodeled – the Ahmad Bin Ali and the Khalifa – with sustainability as a central theme while representing the history of the Arab country and also looking to the future.
Three of them – 974, Education City and Al Thumama – were designed by the Spanish architectural firm Fenwick Iribarren, and the Qatari government has already pledged to donate part of their infrastructure to developing countries.
The last to be inaugurated will be the Lusail Stadium, the venue for the final. It will do so on September 9, when it will host the Super Cup match between the Saudi Pro League champion and the winner of the Egyptian Premier League, on a day that will also feature a festive program to celebrate the inauguration of the ground.
The venue, located in Lusail, 15 km north of downtown Doha, will host matches throughout the tournament, opening with the Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on November 22.
The state-of-the-art stadium will embody “Qatar’s ambition and its passion for sharing Arab culture with the world,” the organizers said, and its design is inspired by the play of light and shadow that characterizes the lantern of the ‘fanar’, a famous Islamic Culture Center in Doha.
Its shape and façade echo the intricate decorative motifs of bowls, vessels and other pieces of art found throughout the Arab and Islamic world throughout history.
Lusail will be the site of the grand finale of a once-in-a-lifetime and one-of-a-kind World Cup; the first in winter and in an Arab country that expects to host around 1.2 million spectators.
In addition to the existing hotels, they have innovated and optimized infrastructure with some 4,000 rooms on cruise ships that will serve as accommodation during the tournament.
Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), the World Cup organizer, said hosting the tournament has accelerated “the development” of the country, “inspiring a generation and showing young people across Qatar and the Arab world what is possible.”
“We have come such a long way in a relatively short space of time,” Al Thawadi said in a statement. “We have built incredible infrastructure, developed a world-class sports and events industry, and delivered human and social projects to benefit people in Qatar and around the world.”
“From day one, we have said that hosting the World Cup is about much more than football. (…) Few of us ever dreamed that Qatar would host a tournament of this magnitude – but look at us now,” he continued.
Another of those responsible for bringing the World Cup to Qatar, engineer Yasir Al Jamal, CEO of the SC, focused on the tournament’s legacy, noting that ““It is amazing to think that at the start of this journey we simply had a vision and ideas – now we have infrastructure and venues that communities across the country are using every single day.”
Nasser Al Khater, general manager of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, highlighted the fact that this World Cup, by being organized in Qatar, a country of only 11,571 square kilometers in area, allows fans to travel to several matches in a single day.
“When fans arrive in Qatar, they will experience our warm hospitality and our passion for football,” he said.