Qatar Sets New Benchmark for Safe Return of Football Amidst Pandemic
Over the past year, the global football community has worked diligently to find solutions for the safe return of the sport amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.
For its part, Qatar has played an important role in building confidence amongst players and fans by showing that a return of large scale tournaments, and in person attendance is possible when the right safety measures are put in place.
Set to host the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and the Arab world in just under two years, Qatar continues to host events in the build-up to the tournament to test venue readiness, tournament operations and to fine tune the country’s fan experience offering. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, these events have taken on a new dimension: ensuring the safety, health and well-being of all participants.
Over the last three months alone, Qatar hosted the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League West and East matches including the finals, as well as the prestigious Amir Cup Final. For the return of Asia’s premier footballing club competition, over 900 players and staff from 30 teams played in a total of 76 matches, all staged across multiple FIFA World Cup™ venues. It constituted the largest bubble-to-bubble sporting event since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The safety of players, officials, team organisers, and fans attending the matches was maintained through a series of measures which included: mandatory COVID-19 testing, safe transportation methods, regular disinfection of all tournament venues including training and media facilities, as well as provision of medical staff in stadiums throughout the competition.
A total of 48,323 tests were carried out across the AFC Champions League matches and the Amir Cup Final, enabling the safe attendance of over 10,000 and 12,000 fans at each final match, respectively.
AFC President HE Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa thanked the efforts made by Qatar to host Asia’s most prestigious football competition after a stoppage that saw football across the continent halted for several months.
On behalf of the Asian football family and the Asian Football Confederation, I want to express our gratitude once again to Qatar Football Association, the Qatari authorities and all our member associations and their participating clubs, for the successful completion of the AFC Champions League.
The success of the initial West and East group stages of the competition, which marked the return of continental football to Asia but was played without fans, helped organisers prepare for the Amir Cup Final 2020 and the AFC Champions League Final, which saw the safe attendance of more than 12,000 and 10,000 fans, respectively.
The Amir Cup Final 2020 also marked the inauguration of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, the fourth FIFA World Cup™ stadium to be inaugurated prior to the tournament kick-off which is set for 21 November 2022.
The events have been praised by FIFA and leading football confederations including the AFC, UEFA and CONMEBOL.
Qatar is now getting ready to host the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™ between 1 and 11 February after a delay caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For updates and more information, visit qatar2022.qa.