Qatar World Cup games will be played in stadiums full of fans, FIFA boss Gianni Infantino says

"I am very, very confident (it) will be incredible, will have the same magic, uniting the world," FIFA boss Gianni Infantino says; the CEO of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar adds that the country will use the upcoming Club World Cup to test all the safety protocols that will be in place

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino is confident the 2022 World Cup will have full stadiums because 'COVID will be defeated by then'

World Cup matches will be played in full stadiums in Qatar next year, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Monday.

The tournament heads to the Middle East for the first time next year - with no plans to push back the start date - despite Euro 2020 taking place a year later than planned in the summer of 2021, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"I am very, very confident (it) will be incredible, will have the same magic, uniting the world," Infantino said on Monday, ahead of the World Cup getting underway in November 2022. "We will be back to where we have to be."

The CEO of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has said that the country will use the upcoming Club World Cup to test all the safety protocols that will be in place for the tournament.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, there have been a series of measures introduced including regular testing of fans, operational staff and the teams that are set to attend and take part at the Club World Cup in February.

The Al Rayyan stadium
Image: The Al Rayyan stadium is one of many which will be used for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar

"Hosting the Club World Cup at this time is an important tournament," Nasser Al-Khater, CEO of the World Cup in Qatar, said. "It's important for us in our preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

"This is the second edition of the FIFA Club World Cup that we host. However, today we are hosting it in completely different circumstances. We are hosting it during the global pandemic of the coronavirus which is obviously very difficult.

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"But it is also important to make sure we play our part for the safe return of football. With two years to go until the FIFA World Cup in 2022, we do hope that the world goes back to normal and that people can enjoy their lives as they previously did.

"Of course we want to make sure sports is also enjoyed the way we are all used to it being enjoyed. However, it is important for us to be able to test all our protocols as we've been doing. You need to be prepared.

"We hope we don't need to implement any of these protocols that we are implementing right now. We hope that sport can go back and that the fans can really enjoy it the way they want to enjoy it.

"The whole world has been affected [by coronavirus] and we hope the world will soon be free from this pandemic which affected life in general and sports directly as well.

"We recently organised various events with the help of many organisations and I can only thank them for making sure this was held in a safe environment.

"This was very beneficial experiences for us and we hope sports and football will get back to normal so that fans will enjoy it in a natural way like we did before."

Speaking to Sky News back in June, Qatar's foreign minister said the designs of the stadiums will comply with any changes to health and safety guidance as a result of COVID-19.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told Sky News: "We believe that Qatar is working very closely and strongly with different healthcare organisations to make sure to deliver a healthy and safe World Cup and believe that this is part of the cure for the world to be back together in a happy manner.

"There is an ongoing exercise with the organising committee, with different stakeholders, to make sure that all the health and safety standards are applied in all our stadiums."

Meanwhile, FIFA says it is joining with the World Health Organization (WHO) in their campaign for "fair access to COVID 19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics".

Infantino and former Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen appeared at a WHO news conference on Monday to launch the awareness campaign.

"We all have to play our part in the battle against the coronavirus," Infantino said.

"We are also calling on the international community to act together to ensure a level playing field in relation to access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests across the globe."

FIFA will launch the campaign during this month's Club World Cup in Doha with a series of promotional videos featuring prominent players and coaches in the tournament.

Owen is one of the former players taking part, who said: "It is important that football remains in tune with society and plays a role in addressing issues that affect us all."

Infantino said FIFA would continue to support efforts and good practice.

"Children all over the world listen maybe listen more if Michael Owen or other legends say 'you have to wash your hands', than a big personality of politics or of health or a doctor," Infantino added.

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