(Reuters) – Qatar showed off the latest stadium to be completed for the 2022 soccer World Cup in a virtual presentation on Monday and dedicated it to frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 40,000 capacity Education City stadium, a ‘Diamond in the Desert’, is the third venue to be ready with five more under construction.
The Al Rayyan Stadium, also with a 40,000 capacity, and the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium are due to be completed by the end of this year.
Gianni Infantino, president of world soccer body FIFA, looked forward to a time when matches no longer had to be played without spectators due to the crisis.
“We must not forget, health comes first. In some parts of the world, it is already possible to look ahead to better times. In others, we still have to be extremely careful, stay strong and united.
“In the meantime, the new stadium in Education City reminds us that football will return and with more passion than ever,” he said.
“When the time comes, we will be sharing the stands with families and friends. In this beautiful and modern stadium, we will come together to celebrate the FIFA World Cup in 2022.”
The stadium will drop to a 20,000 capacity after the tournament with the surplus seats going to stadiums in developing countries.
“Three down, five to go. We’re on track,” said 2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al Khater. “This is a virtual launch, not something that we ever imagined we’d do. But who would have imagined that the world would be where it is right now.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge