The first venue at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been completed, including the installation of cooling technology that was at the heart of the Arabian country’s bid for the tournament.
First built in 1976, Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium has been expanded to seat more than 40,000 fans and extensively renovated at a reported cost of £70m.
In a press release, the Qatar 2022 organising committee said the much-vaunted cooling technology will keep the pitch at a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius and the stands at 24-28 degrees year-round, while using 40% less energy than other cooling methods.
The secretary general of the organising committee, Hassan Al Thawadi, 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 stadium will host World Cup matches up to the quarter-final stage and provides the setting for Friday’s 2017 Emir Cup final, Qatar’s most prestigious domestic football tournament.
Among the other changes to the venue are new changing rooms, media tribune, VIP areas and sports museum, as well as a new roof design that covers all the seats.
The scene of many of Qatar’s greatest sporting moments, including its 1992 Gulf Cup victory, the stadium is also scheduled to host the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
The construction process, however, has not been without controversy or tragedy, as a British worker fell to his death at the stadium in January, while there has been widespread criticism of Qatar’s treatment of its huge army of migrant workers.