With Qatar 2022 just three years away, it would seem that the end is in sight for Hassan Al Thawadi Secretary General for the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy, the organization tasked in building the stadia and infrastructure for the first-ever World Cup in the Arab world.
In an interview with beIN SPORTS, the Qatar 2022 chief reveals his nerves at hosting the world in three years’ time, and how the upcoming Club World Cup tournament in Qatar is ideal preparation for 2022.
“I’m very pleased. That’s not to say we haven’t faced our challenges on the way in terms of delivery on the ground, things are coming along in accordance with the schedule.”
Explained Al Thawadi when asked about the current status of the projects for the tournament. With two stadiums already completed and another two set for completion by the end of the year, including the Education City stadium which is set to host its opening game a semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup which will include European champions, Liverpool. Qatar is well on track to delivering stadia ahead of schedule.
“Our delivery in terms of infrastructure, and in terms of stadiums and now moving to the operational phase we’re progressing very well. “
The next step for Qatar is now to deliver on the tournament side, with the FIFA Club World Cup in December will be the first opportunity to test a number of key elements, including the fan experience for the organizers.
“Our world cup is in November and December and this tournament is beneficial as it’s set up in a time close to when the World Cup is on so we get to experience the appetite people have for travel, how to attract them and what are the issues, considerations and concerns that they have during this event.”
Teams from around the world including Monterrey of Mexico, Hienghène Sport of New Caledonia and Liverpool will convene in Qatar, and Al Thawadi added it’s a vital exercise to identify fan behaviour to help in delivering the best possible experience for the fans in 2022.
“The clubs that are participating this year, they have very passionate fans as well which equates to passionate national team fans. So it will help us identify the profile and nature of the fans during this time so this year and next year will be very beneficial in this sense.”
Qatar was handed the rights to host the World Cup in 2010. After nine years of hard work, now the end is in sight. Looking back on the progress made, Al Thawadi admitted that he was nervous and excited in hosting the biggest football tournament in the world.
“The end is near in sight, but it’s not there yet, this is the moment where we have the most apprehension. This is where you have the most nerves kicking in.”
Comparing the huge task of delivering the World Cup in Qatar to preparing for an exam, Al Thawadi revealed that he is constantly worried and anxious that everything for the World Cup would be perfect.
“It’s like your cramming for an exam, in the lead up to the exam hours before you are just thinking have I read enough? Have I memorized enough? Have I understood enough? Have I picked up enough? You’re just constantly worried and nervous so there is no doubt.”
“In the lead up to it now there is these nerves and apprehension of have we done enough? Have we not done enough? That Kicks in.”
Despite the concerns ultimately the General Sectary is relishing the opportunity to welcome the world in three years’ time. “At the same time, there is an excitement, we are going to host the world, and we are having the World Cup here.”
“When I walk into the stadiums and see the stadium I look at it and I think we were in Russia when we saw this, we were in France when we saw this and now it’s here in my country. We are getting ready to host the World Cup, and you get the nerves and you get the excitement.”
Away from the personal excitement of delivering the World Cup, Al Thawadi added that seeing so many others invested in Qatar 2022 is now a drive for him.
“I see people excited, I see people who want to be part of the story. We had over 10,000 people regionally interested in volunteering for the Club World Cup, we have over 250,000 people expressing an interested in volunteering for the World Cup.”
“Seeing that amount of excitement is invigorating and stokes the fire in your belly.” Now, with three years to go and the majority of stadia either completed or well underway the focus now shifts to delivering an amazing tournament.