Qatar’s World Cup organizers have said they will reveal the new design for a renovated Khalifa International stadium later this month during the Gulf Cup of Nations in Riyadh.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SCDL) said plans to revamp the 40-year-old stadium to create a 40,000 seater arena to host early rounds and quarter final football matches for the 2022 World Cup will be revealed on Nov. 24.
Meanwhile, the football community is awaiting an announcement from FIFA today about corruption allegations surrounding Qatar’s 2022 and Russia’s 2018 tournament bids.
Hans-Joachim Eckert, who chairs the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, has been under sustained pressure to release details of US lawyer Michael Garcia’s 350-page report into the bidding process for the two World Cups.
Garcia himself has previously called for the report to be made public, after he handed it to Eckert on September 5. However, Sepp Blatter, president of the world football’s governing body, has said that publishing the report would compromise the confidentiality of witnesses.
Amid criticism for lack of transparency, FIFA announced on Twitter yesterday that a statement would be released summarizing the findings.
Chairman of the Ethics Committee’s adjudicatory chamber confirms statement will be made public on Thurs 13 Nov at approx. 10am CET (1/2).
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) November 12, 2014
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) November 12, 2014
Work has already started on renovating Khalifa International Stadium, which was built in 1976, by the main contractors – a joint venture comprising local contracting firm Midmac and a subsidiary of Belgian-based Besix Group, Six Construct.
The stadium was refurbished in 2005 ahead of Qatar hosting the Asian Games, and when it was announced as a World Cup venue, organizers said it would be refurbished to add cooling technology and to expand its current 34,000 capacity.
However, it is believed that the works to the stadium will be more extensive than originally stated, as it currently houses an athletics track that is not permitted under FIFA rules for World Cup stadiums.
Photos released by the SCDL suggest the interior will be gutted and reconstructed to include an Olympic and Sports museum. With a completion date of 2016, it would be the first tournament stadium to be ready for the 2022 World Cup.
The announcement of the new design by SCDL, The Aspire Zone Foundation and Qatar Football Association will be made at a dinner hosted in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh and comes amid strained political relations between Qatar and some of its Gulf neighbors including Saudi, Bahrain and the UAE.
While the two countries gave no explanation for withdrawing from the tournament, many speculated it was a boycott related to the ongoing diplomatic disputes.
In a statement announcing the date for the design reveal, Qatar’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Salah Bin Ghanim Al Ali, said:
“This stadium, which was founded to host the 1976 Gulf Cup, has always reflected the strong relationship between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“The unveiling of the new stadium design in Riyadh is another milestone in that relationship and further represents the strong brotherly ties that unite the Gulf and the entire region ahead of the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.”
So far, seven venues have been confirmed as arenas where World Cup matches will be played.
The designs for Al Wakrah and Al Bayt-Al Khor stadiums have already been revealed and construction on these is expected to be complete by 2018.
Plans for the Education City stadium should be outlined in early December, while Al Rayyan Stadium, which is set for a 2019 completion date, will now be totally rebuilt rather than just refurbished, as was originally planned. Its design is set to be revealed by SCDL on National Day (Dec. 18).
Earlier this month, an SCDL official revealed the sites of the sixth and seventh venues – a new stadium on the site of Qatar Sports Club in Dafna/West Bay, and another near the new Hamad International Airport. Work on these is expected to get underway in the second quarter of 2015.
FIFA requires at least eight venues to be used to host the 64 matches during the international tournament. While Qatar made its bid based on holding games on 12 sites, it will likely pare that number.
The SCDL is expected to submit a proposal to FIFA by the end the year, outlining what it believes would be an appropriate number of host venues. The final tally will be decided by the world football governing body’s executive committee in March 2015.