Up to 1.3 million football fans are expected to turn out for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a senior official has said.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Nasser Al Khater, assistant secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL), called the figure “a ceiling cap.”
It is higher than the 1 million fan estimate he previously mentioned in 2015.
But this could be because World Cup organizers have since shifted the tournament to Qatar’s cooler winter months.
According to AFP, Al Khater added that for the first time, the World Cup will see more fans coming from the Middle East and Asia, as opposed to Europe and South America.
“I think first of all, football is changing, but I think also because of the geographical location of Qatar, I think we are going to see the majority of fans coming from the region, mainly Saudi Arabia,” as well as India and Russia, he said.
The official was speaking during a press tour of the renovated Khalifa International Stadium.
The venue is the first in Qatar to become World Cup ready, and officially opens to the public today.
Fan zone safety
Tonight’s match between Al Said and Al Rayyan kicks off at 7pm. But the fan zone opens at 3:30pm and will include cultural performances and a food festival.
The opening ceremony of the Emir Cup final will begin at 6pm.
Ahead of the game, the Ministry of Interior has tweeted several pieces of advice for spectators, including:
- Arrive early and be sure to head to the right gates when you’re ready to be seated;
- Do not bring prohibited items such as fireworks, sharp tools, and glass, metal or water bottles; and
- Do not carry banners with offensive language or wear clothing with photos or phrases “that undermine public modesty.”
First of its kind
Khalifa International Stadium was originally build in 1976 and was renovated 30 years later to host the Asian Games.
All photos courtesy of SCDL
It has undergone a second overhaul to meet FIFA’s standards for the World Cup.
New features include expanded capacity to hold up to 40,000 fans; the installation of cooling technology (which will come in handy this sweltering weekend); and the construction of a sports museum, among other things.