The 22nd World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday, with 32 elite football teams in 64 games over 29 days. Qatar, with a population of 2.7 million in a country smaller than the state of Connecticut, is the smallest host country of the World Cup since Switzerland in 1954. It is also the first country from the Middle East to host the tournament.
Under a well-documented cloud of labor exploitation and human rights abuses, most of the eight lavishly appointed stadiums serving as World Cup venues have been built or updated with the possibility of reducing capacity after the tournament or to be completely reassigned as part of a sustainability campaign. . Qatar has pledged 170,000 stadium seats cut to developing countries that need sports-related infrastructure.
Here are the eight World Cup stadiums:
Twenty-two miles north of Doha in Al Khor, Al Bayt Stadium will host the opener of the tournament between Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday.
As part of the Qatari organizers’ sustainability plan, Al Bayt’s design allows for the removal of the upper tier and the re-commissioning of the seats after the tournament. A five-star hotel, a shopping center and a sports medicine hospital will be integrated into the stadium building.
Khalifa International Stadium opened in 1976 and has undergone two major renovations, the most recent in 2017. Two prominent structural arches support a wide canopy that helps keep the stadium cooler.
England face Iran on Monday in the stadium’s first game of the tournament.
The circular shape and white mesh exterior of Al Thumama is meant to reflect the style of a “gahfiya”, the traditional woven cap worn by Arab men.
After the tournament, Qatar plans to halve its 40,000-seat capacity for a smaller football and other sports venue, adding an on-site sports clinic and hotel.
The first game in Al Thumama is Monday between Senegal and the Netherlands.
Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, home to Al Rayyan and Al Kharaitiyat sports clubs, lies 20 km west of Doha in Umm Al Afaei and is named after a former emir of Qatar. A stadium opened on the site in 2003 but was razed and rebuilt in 2015, reopening in 2016. Over 80% of the original stadium was used in the reconstruction.
The stadium’s facade is designed to mimic the undulations of sand dunes in the nearby desert.
The United States will face Wales here on Monday in the first World Cup match at the venue.
Just over 20km from the center of Doha, Lusail Stadium has a golden facade with a shape intended to mimic a handcrafted bowl. The site will host 10 matches, including the final. The first game in Lusail will be on Tuesday between Argentina and Saudi Arabia.
After the tournament, Qatar plans to convert it into a community center with housing, shops, schools, cafes and medical clinics. The upper level will become an outdoor terrace for the new houses.
Stadium 974, east of central Doha in the Ras Abu Aboud industrial district, takes its name both from the number of recycled shipping containers that make up the venue’s construction and from the modular steel, and the international dialing code for Qatar, +974.
After the tournament, the collapsible superstructure and shipping containers will be reused, and the site will be used for the development of riverside businesses.
Mexico will face Poland at the 974 Stadium on Tuesday in the venue’s first game.
Just over 6 kilometers northwest of central Doha, Education City opens for the World Cup on November 22 in a match between Denmark and Tunisia.
After the tournament, the stadium’s modular upper tier will be dismantled and half of the seats removed. The remaining structure will become a hub for 8,000 students from nearby universities and schools.
Al Janoub Stadium in the southern town of Al Wakrah will make its tournament debut in a Tuesday match between defending champions France and Australia. The billowing design is meant to evoke the wind-swelling sails of traditional dhows, a tribute to Al Wakrah’s history with fishing and pearl diving.
After the tournament, half of the seats will be taken away and donated to global sports projects. Al Wakrah will continue to play matches at Al Janoub in the Qatar Stars League.
SOURCES FIFA World Cup; Qatar 2022; Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy; Associated press