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World Cup's accessible facilities

Qatar 2022 in big letters
Qatar 2022 in big letters Image credit: skysports.com

Organisers of this years’ FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ have showcased the accessible facilities at the stadiums which include a number of firsts for disabled football fans.

The forum held at the Multaqa student centre at Qatar Foundation (QF) saw representatives of the disabled community and senior leadership from the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) witness the ground-breaking commitment FIFA has devoted to people with disabilities.

This years’ World Cup will see the introduction of audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at all the games.

Sensory rooms for fans with sensory access requirements have been built into three of the stadiums and every venue offers accessible parking, seating, bathrooms and concession stands.

The Accessibility Forum ‘kicked off’ in 2016 with members providing feedback on the SC’s infrastructure projects and inclusive designs.

“From the very beginning of our journey to host this historic tournament, our commitment to accessibility has been unwavering. Not only did we work diligently to see that stadiums and tournament sites met the highest accessibility standards, we also actively involved the disabled community to make sure the World Cup creates a lasting legacy for the disabled community beyond Qatar 2022,” said H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General, SC.

“As a result of our work, we now see a marked improvement in the environment for disabled people to access transportation, cultural sites and public spaces across the country. I am very proud of this legacy and look forward to the community building on these gains in the future. For fans attending the tournament, they will experience a number of accessibility features to ensure everyone feels a part of the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world.”

Audio description in Arabic and English will be available outside the stadiums via a dedicated mobile app.

The sensory rooms, available at Al Bayt, Lusail and Education City, will provide quieter places to watch the matches with assistive technology.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said: “At FIFA, our goal is to provide inclusive and accessible infrastructure services for all fans, including disabled fans and fans with limited mobility. For the last few years, we have been working with the SC to ensure that all new FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums and training sites are accessible for disabled people and people with limited mobility. FIFA’s accessibility requirements were an integral part of the planning process.

“Thanks to the SC, accessibility will go beyond tournament sites and events and will be delivered across all physical infrastructure, public transport and services in Qatar. The wide range of infrastructure, transportation and services enhancements that are being implemented for the FIFA World Cup 2022 will provide a strong legacy of greater accessibility and inclusiveness for many years after the completion of the tournament.”

Faisal Al Kohaji, Accessibility Forum member and Chairperson of the Qatar Social Cultural Club for the Blind, made clear the needs of disabled people have been addressed around the country ever since Qatar was named as the World Cup host.

“What we have seen in the area of accessibility since Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup has been life-changing for the disabled community. We now have a modern transportation network that is equipped for all different needs, as well as greater accessibility in museums, shopping destinations and public spaces,” he said.

“But perhaps the greatest benefit of all will be the way the World Cup has elevated the representation of the disabled community in public spheres. By creating accessible spaces, we will see more disabled people in society, thereby reaffirming the notion that disabled people play a vital role in the growth of our communities.”

Alexandra Chalat, Director of World Cup Legacy, QF. said: “QF has made accessibility and inclusion a priority within our schools and programmes since its inception, and our contribution to the commitment the country has made for Qatar 2022 to be the most accessible World Cup ever reflects this.”

“We are harnessing our ecosystem to support the accessibility goals of Qatar as it welcomes the world, through programmes and initiatives that break down social and sporting barriers. From training FIFA volunteers on accessible practices and services, through to offering audio description for the World Cup’s opening and closing ceremonies, to designing the sensory room at Education City Stadium and sensory havens to be used within World Cup activations, to developing an Accessibility Guide for visitors and residents alike, QF is helping to ensure this is a celebration of sport that can be enjoyed by all.

“These efforts do not end with the final whistle. The work we have done aims to make a long-term impact, from programmes to facilities infrastructure to raising awareness, ensuring Qatar 2022 leaves a lasting legacy that stretches far beyond sport, and brings enduring societal value through empowerment, involvement and inclusion.”

The Qatar World Cup 2022 first match is on November 20 held at Al Bayt stadium between Qatar and Ecuador at 6pm GMT.