Nairobi News

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Fifa president lauds Qatar move to allow fans attend matches

FIFA President has Gianni Infantino has lauded Qatar’s preparedness to allow fans back to the stadium amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He spoke after a recent tour of the country in which he attended select matches of the AMIR Cup and AFC Champions League.

Qatar is earmarked to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup in just under two years’ time. Thus the Asian country is pulling all stops to be ready to host the world amid the well-documented health challenges.

Health authorities have largely recommended the exclusion of supporters from stadium during matches as a way of taming the spread of Covid-19.

“Over the last three months, Qatar has shown the world how football can continue to be played and fans remain engaged despite the COVID-19 pandemic that we are all facing,” said Infantino.

“The Amir Cup Final 2020, which helped inaugurate the fourth FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium, as well as the AFC Champions League Final, welcomed more than 10,000 fans back into the stands for each match. I was present for both matches and saw first-hand the seamless health and safety protocols put in place by Qatar and the Local Organising Committee, which ensured players and fans could confidently compete and watch the matches. Qatar has set a benchmark for the safe resumption of football in the COVID-19 world.”

He continued: “We are obviously all hopeful that we will be celebrating the FIFA World Cup in 2022 in a post-COVID-19 world and the recent vaccine news gives us all hope, but we can be confident that Qatar’s upcoming events, such as the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, to be played in February, will be delivered safely for those playing and watching from the stands.”

The safety of players, officials, team organizers, and fans attending 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 the 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.

Asia Football Confederation (AFC) president, HE Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa appreciated 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 in 2020.

“We are also grateful for the hard work and increased efforts of Qatar as they step up the preparations to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. The opening of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, the fourth to be inaugurated, is a clear indication of the progress being made towards delivering a truly world-class celebration of football,” added HE Sheikh Salman.

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.