Four years to Qatar WC: Gulf nation getting ready

Of the eight proposed venues for the Qatar World Cup, only the Khalifa International Stadium is ready for competition.

Early works on Lusail Stadium, which will host both the inaugural and the final match, undergoing construction in December 2015. (FILE PHOTO)   -  GETTY IMAGES

The 2022 football World Cup in Qatar will move away from the traditional summer window of June-July for the first time in its history. The Lusail Stadium in Lusail will host both the inaugural and the final match of the tournament, which will be held from November 21 to December 18.

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Of the eight proposed venues, only the Khalifa International Stadium is ready for competition. Work on the other seven stadiums and the training centres is expected to be completed by 2020 at an estimated cost of $6.5 billion.

The longest distance between the stadiums will be 55 km (Al Bayt Stadium to Al Wakrah Stadium) and the shortest distance is five km (Al Rayyan Stadium to Education City Stadium). The compact nature of the tournament will allow fans to attend more than one group stage game on a match day.

A metro and tram system, currently under construction, will provide direct access to five venues while the organisers are mulling shuttle services for the remaining three venues. The project is nearing completion and is expect to be fully functional by 2020.

Secretary general of the Legacy committee Hassan Al Thawadi believes the World Cup could help build bridge between the people and culture of Qatar with the rest of the world.

“Football, more than any other sport, has the power to build bridges of understanding between people and cultures. With key tournament and national infrastructure projects on-schedule and each of our legacy initiatives proving a catalyst for positive change both locally and abroad, we are delivering on our promise of hosting a unique and transformational FIFA World Cup for Qatar, the region and the world," said Al Thawadi.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said challenged the Qatari organisers to make its tournament even better than the 'best ever' Russia World Cup which was held earlier this year.

There are many lessons we can learn from Russia," said Infantino. "The first one is how to welcome so many people – 1.5 million people came to Russia to enjoy the World Cup and they were all welcomed in a way that was unexpected to many. There were many fears about Russia, but it turned out to be a very safe World Cup, a very welcoming World Cup, in a country that made fans feel good. The whole population contributed to that and I'm sure the same will happen here in Qatar. The Russian World Cup was the best ever, and the World Cup in 2022 has to be even better."