FIFA hails Qatar's 2022 World Cup progress
16 Feb 2017 - 22:19
By Fawad Hussain / The Peninsula
Hailing Qatar's rapid progress on infrastructure projects related to the 2022 World Cup, FIFA President Gianni Infantino yesterday said the arrangements for the mega event would be completed 'well in time'.
Extensive work - worth billions of dollars - on the region's maiden FIFA World Cup is under way with Qatar authorities targeting to complete all projects before 2021.
Last week Qatar’s Finance Minister H E Ali Shareef Al Emadi said that the country was spending $500m every week on major infrastructure projects for football’s biggest tournament.
Infantino yesterday said he was impressed with the report on the progress of the 2022 FIFA World Cup related projects he got to assess during his short trip to Doha.
“A lot has been done by the authorities (already). Great progress has been made,” FIFA President Infantino told reporters at the end of two-day FIFA Executive Football Summit which concluded in the Qatari capital yesterday.
“We have full confidence in everyone. The Qatari government and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) are fully committed. A lot is still to be done but I am confident everything will be ready well in time,” the 46-year-old added.
Some of the new stadiums being built include multi-purpose sports venues namely Al Bayt Stadium, Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Wakrah Stadium, the Khalifa International Stadium and Qatar Foundation Stadium.
All of them will be delivered ready-to-use by 2019.
Infantino said that the game’s governing body would organise various test events ahead of the World Cup to assess the arrangements.
“Discussions are under way about the events. Our options are open to hold test tournaments for the World Cup. Qatar last year hosted the Italian Super Cup and it was a huge success. Such events would continue to be held in Doha.”
While replying to a query, Infantino said he would encourage applications to co-host the 2026 World Cup, hinting that the event could be split among four countries.
"(We could) ...maybe bring together two, three, four countries who can jointly present a project with three, four, five stadiums each. We will certainly encourage it. Ideally the countries will be close to each other. I am very interested in that,” Infantino said.
The FIFA President also said that he didn’t foresee any problem in the expanded World Cup in 2026.
“I still struggle to find any negative in the 48-team World Cup (formula). Most of the countries are happy and some are unhappy. We are open to discussion with the ones who are unhappy,” Infantino said.
Meanwhile, the two-day summit which concluded in Doha yesterday saw representation of Presidents and general secretaries of around 40 football bodies from all around the world.
“It was an intense meeting about football development. The idea was to exchange expertise of football between countries,” Infantino informed yesterday.
“We held similar meetings in Singapore, Paris and Miami and we felt the same summit should be held in Doha which is an important international hub,” the Swiss-Italian said.
Infantino who almost completed a year in top FIFA office expressed satisfaction on his one-year performance.
“My objective was to promote football and I talked about it. We were elected to take the game forward,” added Infantino who was elected FIFA boss last February.