The first proposed host venue of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ Qatar, Khalifa International Stadium, has been completed a full five years before the tournament begins, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for delivering the infrastructure required to host the tournament, has announced.
Expanded to seat more than 40,000 spectators, the stadium has undergone extensive renovation works ahead of the tournament in 2022, when it will host matches until the quarter-finals. These include the installation of revolutionary cooling technology promised during Qatar’s successful bid, which will keep the pitch at an optimum 26°C and the stands at 24-28°C year-round while using 40 percent less energy than traditional cooling methods.
Speaking on the launch of Qatar’s first World Cup stadium, H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the SC, said: “The completion of our first stadium more than five years before the Qatar World Cup begins is an important milestone that reflects our determination to deliver a tournament the entire Arab world is proud to be a part of. As we promised in our bid, our innovative stadiums offer an unrivalled experience to fans and players alike. I’m proud we can show these off to the world and welcome fans with the hospitality this World Cup will be remembered for.”
The first event the renovated stadium will host is the 2017 Emir Cup final, Qatar’s most prestigious domestic football tournament. This builds on a rich history of hosting important local, regional and international events since the stadium was originally built in 1976, including the Gulf Cup on two occasions, the FIFA U-20 Youth World Championships in 1995, the 2006 Doha Asian Games, the 2011 AFC Asian Cup final and international friendlies between top world teams. The stadium will also host another Gulf Cup in December this year and the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Athletics before the FIFA World Cup™ kicks off on 21st November 2022.
Other new features include the installation of a larger roof over the entire spectator area, with an intricate net of German and Italian-made steel tension cables weighing 4,000 tonnes holding 92 panels in place, while the stadium will also be the first FIFA World Cup™ venue and the first stadium in the region to be lit by LED lighting, which is both more sustainable and more versatile than traditional lighting.
Even the pitch at Khalifa International Stadium has a rich story to tell: designed to be perfectly suited to Qatar’s climate, it was developed at the SC’s nearby Turf Nursery – the only one of its kind in Asia – and was laid in a new world record time of 13 ½ hours.
Hilal Al Kuwari, Chairman of the Technical Delivery Office at the SC, said: “It will be a proud moment for my team when the first ball is kicked here on Friday and I know all of Qatar appreciates the efforts of those who have helped deliver such an impressive venue. Fans of all ages and nationalities have a lot to look forward to when they visit the stadium, including the cooling technology we promised during our bid, a pitch that was developed at our one-of-a-kind Turf Nursery, and, of course, an immense atmosphere Arab fans alone are capable of producing. We still have seven stadiums underway, all due to be completed well in advance of the tournament, but this is a great demonstration of our progress.”
Located in the world-famous Aspire Zone, Khalifa International Stadium already offers a range of nearby leisure amenities. During the World Cup, however, fans will also be able to travel to and from the historic venue via a dedicated metro station on Qatar’s national metro project, QRail. Once completed, Qatar’s tournament infrastructure will keep journey times between all FIFA World Cup™ stadiums and accommodation locations below one hour, enabling fans to watch more than one live match per day for the first time in FIFA World Cup™ history.
Qatar Football Association (QFA) President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani added: “Khalifa International Stadium is close to Qatari hearts and has seen some of Qatar’s biggest sporting occasions over the years since it was first launched in 1976. It is therefore a fitting venue for the biggest match of Qatar’s football calendar, the 2017 Emir Cup final between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, and we look forward to welcoming fans into the magnificent remodelled stadium on Friday evening.”
A fan zone for the Emir Cup final will open at 15:30 on Friday, offering cultural programmes and a food festival to spectators and their families. An opening ceremony will then begin at 18:00 with kick-off at 19:00. Former FC Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez will lead Al Sadd SC in pursuit of their record 16th Emir Cup against Al Rayyan SC, one of Qatar’s oldest and best-followed football teams. Former Real Madrid legend Raúl González Blanco was the last player to win the Emir Cup at Khalifa International Stadium, when his Al Sadd SC beat Al Sailiya 3-0 in 2014.
Khalifa International Stadium ‘Fast Facts’:
Originally built in 1976 to host the Gulf Cup
Hosted Qatar’s first national competition triumph: the 1992 Gulf Cup
Stadium in which Saudi Arabia qualified for their first ever FIFA World Cup in 1994
Hosted the 1995 FIFA World Youth Championship at only three weeks’ notice
Renovated in 2006 to host the Asian Games, the world’s second-largest sporting event
New features for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ include:
Expansion of east wing to increase overall capacity to more than 40,000
Installation of innovative cooling technology
Upgrading the changing rooms, VIP areas and media tribune
The addition of 61 guest suites
The construction of a sports museum
New roof design covering entire spectator area
Pitch developed at the SC’s Turf Nursery, the only development facility of its kind in Asia