Although the construction of Lusail Stadium was already completed in 2021, the 80,000-seater had to wait for its first official match until now. It is fair to say that all the venues for the upcoming World Cup are 100% ready for use!
The largest in the Middle East
Lusail Iconic Stadium, as that is its full name, is not only the largest venue in Qatar, but also in the entire region. The completion of the works was officially announced at a special press conference back in November last year. At the time, the organisers did not provide information on the total cost of the arena. All we know is that at the time the contract was signed, it was estimated at $767 million.
Lusail Stadium is set almost perfectly on a circular plan. From the outside, its shape resembles a huge bowl, which is a reference to the traditional vessel for dried dates. The auditorium, with a capacity of 80,000 seats, has been divided into two sections. After the end of the 2022 World Cup, many of the seats will be dismantled and shipped overseas.
Before that, however, it is time for big things to happen in Lusail City, which officially kicked off on August 11 with Al Arabi's match against Al-Rayyan in the 2nd gameweek of the Qatar Stars League. With 20,000 people in the stands, the event was the first of the stadium's test trials. Not to be missed at the opening game was FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who lives in Qatar on a daily basis.
The venue, located 15 km north of Doha's city centre, will host a special event on September 9, which, according to the organisers, is expected to be the 'final milestone' in preparation for the World Cup. The stadium will host the Lusail Super Cup between the champions of the Saudi Pro League and the winners of the Egyptian Premier League. The whole event is to culminate in a concert by a 'famous singer'. The event is to be watched from the stands by a full audience of 80,000 people.
The giant from Lusail City, as one might have guessed from its dimensions, will soon host the grand final of the World Cup. It will also be the venue for a semi-final, quarter-final, round of 16 match and six group games. Among the biggest arenas of the championship Al-Bayt Stadium also stands out, as it will host... the opening match! Why is this so surprising? Initially, the inaugural fixture was to be played at Al Thumama Stadium, but there has been quite a change in recent days.
Since 2006, it has been a tradition that the hosts play the first match of the tournament. This has been the case in Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Russia. The last time a different team inaugurated the World Cup was in 2002, when the defending champions, France, sensationally lost to Senegal. This year's edition seemed set to break that pattern, with the Netherlands and Senegal again, due to be the first to step onto the pitch on November 21.
On August 10, FIFA submitted a request for the formal opening match, involving the tournament hosts (Qatar - Ecuador), to be moved to Sunday, November 20, one day earlier than originally planned. Two days later, the decision to move the game was officially confirmed by FIFA. The first day of the tournament will therefore see just one match being played, before the World Cup kicks off in full swing on Monday with three and then four fixtures daily as a norm.
To get into the World Cup atmosphere, check out the video on our YouTube channel in which we compared the designs of Qatar's stadiums with the results of the construction work: