Qatar will be hosting the Club World Cup for the second time successively…
The FIFA Club World Cup (CWC) is already underway in Qatar. Two matches have already been played and the semifinal which would involve European Champions Bayern Munich is slated to be held on February 8, 2021.
Nasser Al-Khater, the CEO of the 2022 World Cup, is viewing the Club World Cup as a perfect test platform for the 2022 global event. Although the ongoing tournament is being hosted with utmost safety with all Covid protocols in place, the official hopes that the marquee event in November 2022 can be hosted without any restriction per se.
“Hosting the Club World Cup is important for us for the preparations of the FIFA World Cup in 2022. This is the second edition of the Club World Cup that we host. However, today we are hosting it in different circumstances. We are hosting during a global pandemic which is very difficult but it is also important to make sure we play our part in the safe return of football.
“We do hope that the fans coming here can enjoy football. We do know that the fans must undergo a PCR Covid test before attending the match. All the operational staff must go through testing before they can work. This will ensure the safety of the players and also make sure that we don’t have any outbreak due to the current situation.”
Al-Khater feels the best practices learnt from the Club World Cup will be implemented during the 2022 World Cup.
“All the operational testing that would be required and all the skills that would be implemented in the World Cup are picked up and practised during the Club World Cup. With almost two years to go for the 2022 World Cup, we hope that the world goes back to normal and people can enjoy as they previously did. We hope that we don’t need to implement any of the protocols that we are implementing right now,” he explained.
Qatar have already hosted two big-ticket competitions in the recent past, namely the AFC Champions League and the Amir Cup, and Al-Khater is confident that the country is absolutely ready to host the Club World Cup without any Covid-related complications.
“Qatar has set benchmarks for the safe return of sporting events. We have hosted two events, one of them being the AFC Champions League qualifications and finals. There were more than 1000 delegates that participated in the event. We had about 10000 spectators attending the final. We had implemented strict safety protocols, made sure that all players and delegates were secured in medical bubbles and saw that the entire tournament was conducted in safe bio-bubbles, whether it was in the hotels, training sites we saw that all movements of players and officials were done in a secure way. We are happy that it was a successful event.
“We also hosted the Amir Cup Final which saw the return of 50 per cent capacity. Again it was conducted maintaining safety protocols. Around 48000 PCR tests were conducted to make sure that fans those who entered the stadium were free of Coronavirus. It was a successful event and we did not see any outbreak because of the event. So these two major milestones put us in a very good place to host the FIFA CWC in the same way,” he expressed.
Later in 2021, Qatar would also host the Arab Cup. It would act as the perfect prelude to the World Cup next year. 22 teams are going to participate in the initial round and all the matches will be played in World Cup stadiums.
“Thankfully, we are preparing ourselves in terms of stadium infrastructure, infrastructure in general in the country we are in a very good place. In terms of operationally implementing our plans, we have ensured that there are a lot of test events from now on until the World Cup. Obviously, the most important and major one is the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021 that would also take place at the same time as the World Cup, so to be around November and December 2021. That’s where we are going to be testing most of our stadiums, operations and all major infrastructure.”
The Education City Stadium and the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium will be used during the Club World Cup. Bayern Munich will play their semifinal against Al Ahly at the Ahmed bin Ali arena, whereas the other semifinal and the final will be hosted by Education City.