November 04, 2020

Five 2022 World Cup Tournament Firsts

2022 will forever be synonymous with the first FIFA World Cup football tournament held in the Middle East. From being the first country in their region to host this footballing spectacle, Qatar is continuing to lay claim to a myriad of ‘firsts’ in the preparation and delivery of the tournament. So, what more can fans expect?

Is Small the New Big?

With an area of just 11,571 km2, Qatar is the smallest country ever to host the World Cup. The tournament is the first to be held within a radius of less than 60 km, with the majority of stadiums and event facilities located in only a few host cities. So, for the first time in World Cup history, fans should be able to attend several matches in just one day.
Travel times to stadiums range from just 5 minutes to 60 minutes. Equally minimal distances to and from the airport, accommodation, fan zones and the country’s major attractions can be expected, as can a host of modern transport options. So, the 2022 tournament will be the most compact Games ever, but it should also be one of the most efficient, cost-effective and relaxing in terms of travel.

Chilled to Perfection

Since its initial bid to host the World Cup, Qatar has promised to keep it's stadiums cool using innovative cooling technologies. It might sound implausible, even wasteful, to air-condition large open-air arenas. However, Qatar has, through extensive research and testing, designed fully controllable, environmentally sustainable air-conditioning technology for open spaces.
The cooling technologies, powered by solar energy and designed to be energy efficient, only cool the stands and the playing field, rather than the entire stadium. The cool air generated is diffused at pitch and stand-level and circulated, with rising warm air extracted and recycled, to create a bubble of cool air only where it is needed. The stadium’s structure helps to maintain the cooled air inside of the stadium. By creating a bubble of cool air, and controlling cooling in real-time, based on factors such as internal and external temperatures, the number of people inside the stadium, etc., Qatar has introduced FIFA’s first climate-controlled, open-air stadiums.

The 2022 World Cup will also be the first to be held out of season. The up and coming games will be held from the 18th November to the 21st December. FIFA confirmed changes to the tournament timings in July 2018, saying that, while Qatar could cool stadiums, they couldn’t cool the whole country.

Hosting the games during the winter months, when temperatures fall to the balmy 20s (˚C), will give fans a great opportunity to get outside and experience all that Qatar has to offer.

Check out Qatar’s climate during the winter, read our Winter Weather article.

Image: Ahmed Hamid/

Keeping a Cool Head

The summer months in Qatar are extremely hot. For those working outside, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are a very real threat. In the construction of the stadiums, event venues and facilities, new accommodation and infrastructure for the 2022 tournament, many thousands of workers must be protected against that threat. Amongst other initiatives, Qatar has developed an innovative solution specifically for workers - cooled safety helmets.
The safety helmets have been designed to incorporate a solar-powered fan to blow air over a pouch of cooled material (phase change material*) inside the top of the helmet. The cooled air is then transferred to the wearer of the hat, cooling the air around their head by up to 10 ̊C to ensure safer and more comfortable working conditions.
The use of phase change material to cool individuals has been used in other applications, i.e. sports vests. But for the first time, Qatar is using it in the construction industry and on an epic scale.

*Phase change material is a substance that absorbs and releases thermal energy during the process of melting and freezing.

Benchmark Buildings

Mega-sporting events are often criticised for creating ‘white-elephants’ - venues built specifically for an event that are of limited value to the local community once the event has been concluded. In order to avoid this phenomenon, Qatar has ensured that its stadiums, where necessary, are designed modularly so that their capacity may be reduced to suit local needs. The removed modules will then be donated to countries and projects that require sporting infrastructure.
Going one step further, Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud Stadium has been designed to be fully demountable. Constructed using repurposed shipping containers, modified to house seating, bathrooms and other elements of the stadium, the entire building can be dismantled at the end of the 2022 tournament. The stadium may then be reconstructed elsewhere, or the building blocks of the structure repurposed to create small venues as required. The entire concept brings a new level of sustainability and innovation to stadium design. A first for the World Cup and, more importantly, a global benchmark for future events.
Discover more about the world’s first demountable stadium, click on our Stadiums page.

Smart Tech

Fans visiting any of Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums will be astounded by the range of smart technology available. Amongst other things, football fans will be able to use their mobile devices to access the stadium; navigate their way around the stadium; order food, drinks and merchandise to their seats; connect with other supporters in the stadium; and, access online match information and live translation in any language.
The 2022 World Cup will be the most connected in history, and many of the mobile applications and technology utilised will be those exclusively designed for the tournament.
Challenge 22, a competitive innovation awards programme for developers and entrepreneurs, has helped to bring some of these smart technologies to the stadiums for the first time. The initiative, designed to boost innovation and entrepreneurship across the Middle East, was launched in 2015 by the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy, as part of the World Cup deliverables.

A Final Note

Qatar has told the world to ‘Expect Amazing’ and, with less than three years until kick-off, they are not only delivering spectacular stadiums but a tournament full of surprises, innovations and world firsts. The only thing left for you to do is to book your tickets or pick your place to watch ‘amazing’ unfold!

Main Image: Copyright Living 2022

Published: August 18, 2020
Last updated: November 04, 2020
Related Articles