Qatar is more ready to host a FIFA World Cup™ than any nation in history and will deliver the “best World Cup ever”, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has told Qatar Foundation’s Education City Speaker Series as the build-up to the global sporting showpiece enters its final year.
A virtual event held to mark the one-year countdown to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – which kicks off on Monday, November 21, 2022 – heard how the tournament will create a cultural, social, and economic legacy for Qatar and the region, including through cruise ships that will act as ‘floating hotels’ for fans going on to play a post-World Cup role in boosting Qatar’s tourism and industry.
During the discussion, titled FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™: The Countdown to History, Qatar Foundation (QF) and the FIFA Foundation announced a new partnership focused on inclusivity and engaging young people of different abilities through sport, including a Football for Schools app that will go global in 2022.
“I have never seen a country so ready to host a World Cup as Qatar,” Mr. Infantino told the Education City Speaker Series. “In terms of infrastructure, everything is ready, which means that for the next year we can focus on making sure every fan coming to Qatar will have an incredible experience in a welcoming part of the world, in a great country and in a great region.
“It will not only be the best World Cup ever, but also a truly unique one.”
Speaking about how the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and the Arab world will support FIFA’s efforts to grow the global game, Mr. Infantino said: “Our vision at FIFA is really to make football truly global. We often say it is a global sport, but (when) you scratch beneath the surface, you realize that top professional football is still very concentrated between a few teams in Europe. We need to give more opportunities and more access to the world through football, and the Arab world, in this respect, is crucial in this.
“There is a population of 450 million people, and there is a great passion for football among the Arab world. I think it is absolutely fitting to have the World Cup here for the first time in history. I believe that World Cup, being such an amazing event, really has the power to inspire young generations and develop football at all different levels..
“We, at FIFA, in Qatar, and everyone that is part of the team organizing the FIFA World Cup, want to really embrace sustainability, because we want to make football, and the impact that football has in the world, better from one World Cup to the next. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will really be a highlight, because we have the commitment from Qatar and that is something unique, that will be seen from now until the World Cup (finals), but much more importantly, after the World Cup as well.”
His Excellency Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, described the tournament as “a great opportunity to showcase the culture, heritage, and hospitality of this part of the world”, saying: “The World Cup is a gateway for piquing the interest of people from all walks of life to come to Qatar, the Middle East, and the Arab world, and for us to showcase ourselves to the world.
“It will shine the spotlight on so many of our initiatives – such as our museums and cultural events, which are some of the best in the world – and people will not only have a profound and long-lasting experience, but they will keep talking about it and promoting our country and our region.”
Machaille Hassan Al-Naimi, President of Community Development, Qatar Foundation – whose Education City is home to one of the eight FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadiums – said: “At QF, we are a living, breathing city within a city, and we are playing a very unique role in supporting the World Cup from the perspective of sustainability, research, and community development, all of which are core mission areas for us.
“Our researchers are developing solutions that support the World Cup and many of these have come into policy and been launched as businesses. Working closely with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to make this an Arab World Cup, we want to ensure tournament volunteers learn about our Arabic language, history, and culture, so the legacy of the volunteer program extends beyond the World Cup.
“With the Education City Stadium, we are reaching out to community members to see what they would like to be housed there after the tournament. Two of our schools will be based there, which is a great legacy, but it will also be home to many sporting entities as a hub of sports development and the transfer of knowledge.”
During the discussion, moderated by QF Editor-in-Chief Michael Jabri-Pickett, Al Thawadi said the work of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s Josoor Institute to train sports and events experts can help to make this industry “a genuine economic driver” for the region after the tournament. He also explained how cruise and cargo ship firms whose vessels are to provide 6,000 rooms for fans next year will make Qatar a destination for their business operations after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, creating an economic legacy for the country.
“When we say we’re welcoming the world, we’re talking about the fans,” he said. “I hope that this will be a time that will always remain in their memories, and that bonds are formed that last long beyond 2022.
“There are many different ways of leaving a legacy, but ultimately what most of us look toward to is the positive memories, the relationships and bonds you form. People will engage with the experience of the rich heritage and culture that showcases the Arab world, not only Qatar, and I believe that’s how the Arab world will have a legacy from this tournament for years to come.”