The two-day FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Security Last-Mile Conference kicked off in Doha on May 22.
The main security concern of the 2022 World Cup will be controlling hundreds of thousands of football fans in Qatar‘s capital, FIFA told police chiefs from competing nations worldwide at a conference in Doha.
Being the most geographically compact World Cup is one of the tournament’s biggest challenges, FIFA Security Director Helmut Spahn told the attendees.
Representatives from competing countries, the United Nations, FIFA, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), Europol, Interpol, and other international and local organisations, as well as representatives from other important stakeholders, attended the two-day conference.
Unlike past World Cups, where just two teams and their fans would congregate in one city at a time, all of the games for this year’s major event will be held in and around Doha.
1.4 million fans are expected to visit the Gulf state during the 28-day event, which begins November 21, with “approximately 350,000” people in Doha “at the same time,” according to Spahn, who spoke on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Security Last-Mile Conference.
“You have to manage that,” he said. “But we can create history and I am pretty sure that we will manage it.”
However, Spahn is not alone in believing the country’s impending number of visitors is one of the biggest issue, with Qatar’s Major General Abdulaziz Al-Ansari, head of the country’s World Cup security operation, also pointing towards crowds.
“But we are very much confident that we have reviewed this over and over again,” Al-Ansari said. “Of course, there are going to be challenges, but the challenge is going to be part of the enjoyment.”
He also discussed Project Stadia, a collaboration between Qatar and Interpol designed to aid with policing and security for Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup. According to the major, the 10-year project will add value to any country hosting a major event.
Qatari police are planning a complex system of road closures and extra public transportation to move football fans around the country.
Compact World Cup
The longest distance between any two of the eight stadiums is around 70 kilometres. Police representatives from competing nations at the conference will assess World Cup stadiums and evaluate transportation in Doha, according to Al-Ansari.
Notably Spahn stated that the threat of “terrorism” has declined since the past versions of the tournament that were held in Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014, and Russia 2018.
Previously, “we had terrorist attack threats prior to a World Cup, we had strikes of private security and police, we had problems sometimes with infrastructure at stadiums not being ready. This is not the case here,” Spahn explained, emphasising that the threat “is low and under control here in Qatar.”
Qatar signed a joint declaration on the International Police Cooperation Centre (IPCC) with numerous countries and security agencies on the sidelines of the conference to exchange information.
According to Al-Ansari, a handbook for fans visiting Qatar will be released next month. This comes as the Qatar 2022 rules on alcohol consumption, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights have become a source of contention for European fan groups.