The FIFA 2022 World Cup Qatar completed the virtual launch of the Education City Stadium on Monday. The stadium is the third completed venue, which has a capacity of 40,000, and is set to host matches until the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Secretary-General for Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of the 2022 World Cup Hassan Al Thawadi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani paid tribute to the frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19 across the world. Infantino said, “New stadium in Education City reminds us that football will return like how it’s happening in certain regions around the world."
Al Thawadi was hopeful of remaining on track in executing the first World Cup in the Middle East despite the setback of the coronavirus pandemic. He said, “We have all seen the impact of the COVID-19 has had on the global economy and unemployment. We are talking to economists and various stakeholders to make sure that this is an accessible and affordable tournament for everyone. We are continuing our talks with our partners like the Bundesliga, the Premier League and the Tokyo Olympics to learn from them. We have two years ahead to learn from others.”
Backing Al Thawadi on the affordability factor for fans, Qatar World Cup 2022 CEO Nasser Al Khatar said, “Even before the pandemic, affordability was something we were focussing on. I think the execution of the FIFA Club World Cup last year in Qatar will tell you that fans could afford to come here and enjoy. Contrary to what is the belief, if you are looking for budget then you will get budget in Qatar.”
Al Khatar is confident of delivering ‘an amazing World Cup’. He said, “We are 80 per cent complete with our infrastructure. Three down, five [stadiums] to go. We are on track. It’s a virtual launch which we never imagined we would do."
The launch was also used as a platform to reflect on the future of football and its economic concerns in a post-COVID-19 world.
While Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert said all Bundesliga clubs will be able to survive this season, he felt it is time to introduce salary caps in football. Seifert said, “Salary caps is something we have to look at in European football. At the moment, there is a lot of money in the market. But in the end, it doesn’t help the financial health of clubs. Players are creating the game by bringing in the money, but the financial stability of clubs is important. Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. are alone creating 60,000 jobs in Germany. I think the time is right to have some regulations in the market and restrict the freedom there already is. Two months of no football have put a lot of clubs in so much trouble. And little regulations now will benefit clubs.”
Professor Simon Chadwick, a football author and academic felt the pandemic has taken football by surprise and were unprepared for this situation. He said, “Too many haven’t come to grips with the pandemic. It will have an effect from the elite level to right to the grassroots level of football.”
Former Arsenal boss and FIFA’s technical director Arsene Wenger said the pandemic was ‘an accident nobody planned for.’ Wenger added, “Football will have to change itself; the organisation and structure around the game will have to change, we have to adapt for future crisis. Especially the lower leagues will suffer a lot. The football world will be like before but a little bit stronger for strong clubs and a little bit weak for weaker clubs.
“Should the league create an emergency fund for such scenarios? Should this money be deducted from the television money that you can intervene in case you have to stop the league? This virus might come back again and we could be contained again and possibly other disasters. So we need emergency funds inside the league so can survive better in such conditions.”
- Vijay Hazare Trophy LIVE score, pre-quarterfinals updates: Kerala takes on Maharashtra, Bengal vs Gujarat; Toss at 8:30 AM
- Hamilton deplores FIA’s investigation into Mercedes boss
- Healy appointed Australian women’s cricket captain
- ‘Heartbroken’ Kyrgios pulls out of Australian Open
- Juventus back on top of Serie A after clinical win against wasteful Napoli