Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

A chance to learn

The next two World Cups are scheduled to take place in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Inas Mazhar takes a preliminary look at early preparations for the future events

Al-Ahram Weekly

Russia was in Brazil as a competitive team, even though its luck ran out at an early stage, leaving after the first round of the World Cup games. Qatar had failed to secure a win in the Asian qualification that would have taken it to the final tournament in Brazil.

After the closing ceremony of the 20th edition of the World Cup in Brazil, the focus of attention will soon shift to 2018 when the biggest country in the world gets set to host football’s flagship event for the first time. The Russians are determined to amaze the world in four years’ time, starting their preparations even before the culmination of Brazil 2014.

Despite the early exit of the Russian football team from the tournament, another Russian team continued making its appearance in the South American country, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), whose responsibility was to carry out a programme of events set to be held during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.  The programme, which was approved by the 2018 LOC board meeting a month before the kick-off of the World Cup in Brazil, focused on the transfer of knowledge and experiences gained by World Cup organisers, which the 2014 LOC had prepared jointly with FIFA.

The programme worked on bringing in both members of the 2014 LOC and representatives from 2018 World Cup host cities, federal executive bodies and companies involved with the design and construction of the tournament’s stadiums.

During the one-month tournament, participants in the programme visited the 2014 FIFA World Cup stadiums, training grounds, FIFA Fan Fest venues, the FIFA World Cup International Broadcast Centre and airports, and held meetings with FIFA experts and representatives from the local authorities.

“Brazil’s FIFA World Cup is in essence our main and only opportunity to observe in real time how a tournament is held,” said LOC chairman and Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko before the tournament kick-off. “That’s why we have devised a special programme that encompasses practically all those involved in preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, so that they can see for themselves what we are facing in four years’ time.”

Between 30 and 40 people from the Russia 2018 LOC were involved in the observer programme at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Some of those were directly involved in work at the tournament in Brazil.

Plans for events in Brazil included for the first time ever a FIFA World Cup “House of Russia” in Rio de Janeiro that was up and running during the tournament, at which the LOC presented Russia’s host cities, as well as held a series of events devoted to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Ahead of the final of Brazil 2014 between Germany and Argentina, Russian melodies and traditional Russian cuisine adorned a fine, Brazilian evening. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia LOC Chairman and Russian Sports Minister Mutko brought together his colleagues, figures from the football community and members of the press to provide a taster of what football fans can expect in four years’ time.

Russia was officially handed over the FIFA Flag for the 21st edition in 2018 in the closing ceremony of the World Cup two weeks ago. In the presence of Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, and FIFA president, Joseph Blatter, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Brazil for successfully hosting the 2014 World Cup.

“I want to congratulate President Rousseff on how the World Cup was organised,” said Putin. “Football helps to solve social problems. Our task is to create the best possible conditions for the coaches, players, experts and fans. I am grateful to President Blatter and his colleagues from FIFA for the honour to organise the World Cup. We will do all we can to organise the event on the highest level.”

Russia will stage the first major milestone event next July in Saint Petersburg when the qualifying pathway for FIFA’s member associations will be defined at the Preliminary Draw.

On the other hand, Qatar, the host nation of the22nd edition of the World Cup in 2022, shared the experience of the Fan Fest Zone by holding the same venues in Doha for visitors to enjoy a similar atmosphere. While the World Cup was being held in Brazil, more than 15,000 people attended the cooled, open-air “Brazil 2014 Fan Zone” hosted by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) at Katara, to watch games across 10 nights from the round of 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil through to the final.

The Fan Zone was used by the SC to test the prototype cooling technology that will be utilised at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The results from the tests have been incredibly positive, with temperatures on average 12 degrees Celsius lower inside the Fan Zone.

The data will be utilised by the SC’s technical team as part of its research and development to deliver the cooling technology that will create an amazing fan and player experience at the future Qatar event. The SC is working with a number of partners in Qatar including the ASPIRE Zone Foundation and Qatar University to develop the technology, which, alongside being used in 2022, will leave a lasting legacy for the country and others with similar climatic conditions to be able to host major outdoor sporting events.

Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said, “The use of these cooling technologies in the Fan Zone will help us develop an understanding of how to create the perfect energy-efficient cooling system ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.”

Ever since winning the award to host the 2022 World Cup event, there have been concerns and worries from the international teams, media and fans about the weather conditions during summer and calls for a winter shift of the tournament.

The thousands of fans in attendance at the Fan Zone have experienced not only the great football from Brazil on Qatar’s huge panoramic HD screens, but also a wide range of football-related activities including a three-on-three sand pitch, an eleven-a-side football table and the opportunity to take a penalty at Al-Wakrah Stadium using virtual reality.

They have also been treated to some of the best entertainment from across Qatar and the region with the likes of Wonho Chung, Hamad Al-Amari and the LED show, Lights of Wonder. Fans have also enjoyed a sample of the atmosphere in Brazil courtesy of drumming bands and exhibitions of the Brazilian martial art Capoeira.

The Fan Zone also drew the attention of a number of VIPs, including ambassadors from the USA, France, Germany, Ukraine, UK, Holland, Costa Rica, South Korea and Turkey, who joined fans to support their teams or simply experience the cooling technology first hand. A number of Qatar Stars League players and ex-footballers also took this opportunity to learn more about the SC’s plans for 2022.

One of the great successes of the Fan Zone was the launch of the SC’s volunteering programme, Club Amazing. Three hundred volunteers from Qatar, the GCC, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, the Philippines, India and the UK, amongst other countries, helped to create an incredible atmosphere at the Fan Zone.

In addition, the SC’s Workers’ Welfare Committee recently hosted a special event at the Fan Zone to show their appreciation for approximately 350 workers and service staff, who are contributing to the delivery of the FIFA World Cup™ in 2022.

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