FIFA postpones decision on Qatar WC stadiums

Doha, December 9

FIFA has delayed a decision on finalising the number of stadiums to be used during the 2022 Qatar World Cup until next year, tournament officials in the Gulf confirmed on Wednesday.

A final decision was expected before the end of this month, but following a meeting in Doha of the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee (LOC), the body overseeing preparations for the controversial tournament, that number will be fixed in January.

“There was an agreement about deciding the number of stadiums for the World Cup by the end of this year but because of the importance of this matter, we decided to postpone the decision,” said Nasser al-Khater, the assistant general secretary of Qatar’s 2022 organising committee. Talking to invited local media at a press briefing on Tuesday, he added that the decision would be taken in “January”.

The final decision will be taken by FIFA. It has been widely predicted that only eight stadiums will be used in Qatar, though the initial bid allowed for up to 12. If eight is agreed, it will be the smallest number of venues used at a World Cup finals since Argentina in 1978, where games were played at just six different stadiums.

However, just 16 teams qualified for that tournament 37 years ago. In Qatar, 32 nations will take part. Work has already begun on six stadiums and Qatari officials say

they want all venues completed by 2020. Khater added that organisers “would have enough time” to adapt their plans to whatever number is chosen by FIFA.

Colin Smith, FIFA’s director of competition, told local media: “We are happy with the progress Qatar has made with its preparations for the World Cup and especially with the LOC’s dynamic timelines for the delivery of stadiums.”

In a statement following the LOC meeting, FIFA also said it was “encouraged” by workers’ safety standards employed during building work of World Cup venues, and said these should be adopted across Qatar.

This follows the latest criticism earlier this month from Amnesty which said “almost nothing” had been done on labour reform since Qatar was chosen five years ago to host the World Cup. The rights’ group criticised FIFA’s “sorry performance” on the labour issue and called on football’s governing body to do more in the run-up to 2022.