Fatma Samoura, FIFA Secretary-General, said that Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup are on track, adding that Qatar 2022 can motivate and inspire future bidders for the world’s greatest football tournament to place a key focus on legacy planning.
Asked about the progress on the ground especially that Qatar 2022 is now just over five years away, she said “I think that in terms of infrastructure, the projects are really unfolding as planned. One of the main stadiums at Khalifa International Stadium was inaugurated in May, and from the visits we are undertaking, and the meetings with the local organising committee, we have no reason to doubt that it will be a fantastic event.”
Two more venues for the tournament are on the verge of completion, and will be ready by the end of next year, while the remaining stadiums will be completed in 2020.
Answering a question on how important is this timely completion of venues for FIFA, Samoura said “I know that for the previous World Cup, even the day before some things still had to be fixed. I think that with the experience we have seen with Russia, it adds a lot of value to have the World Cup attributed long enough in advance, to allow the host countries to finish all the work.
Asked about the effect it can have for the region especially that this will be the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East, she pointed out “Football is one of the biggest unifiers. With football you can really build bridges and bring communities together. Our role as FIFA is to develop football and to allow it to be played in every single part of the world, and Russia and the Middle East are no exceptions.
“We have 211 member associations and six confederations, we should be fair to each of them and not portray FIFA as an organisation that focusses on only two or three continents. We should be going wherever people are and where they are interested in football.”
On a question related to the development of women’s football and whether this World Cup is also helping to propel this development in the Arab world, Samoura said “Under the new women’s football strategy, we are very ambitious. We want to double the number of youth competitions for female players, and secondly to reach sixty million female players registered. We are looking to build on the success of the women’s World Cup in Canada and make sure that it is a big success in 2019 in France. We are promoting grassroots football, and bringing football to new regions where we can change perceptions. The idea with the new leadership is that women and young girls are given equal opportunity to play, without any barriers.”
Answering a question on legacy that has long been a key word for mega-events and her opinion on Qatar’s approach in this regard, FIFA Secretary General said that Qatar’s legacy approach is something which really inspired FIFA.
“Under the new bidding process for 2026, we are encouraging more lasting legacy programmes for all the World Cup tournaments we are organising. From what I have heard from Qatar, the way they built this legacy programme is something unique.
The modular stadium concept, the fact also they will use this infrastructure for different purposes afterwards is something we really encourage.
Hopefully for bidders for 2026, Qatar will be a source of inspiration and motivation on how we should use legacy programmes for future World Cups.”