Mohamed Aboutrika – widely recognised as one of Africa’s greatest-ever players – has hailed the significance of the first FIFA World Cup™ to be held in the Middle East and Arab world.
Speaking exclusively to qatar2022.qa from Al Rayyan Venue – which will be inaugurated on 18 December when it hosts the Amir Cup final – Aboutrika said:
“Hosting the first World Cup in this part of the world provides a much-needed opportunity to change many of the negative perceptions that people have about this region.
“Having the World Cup here in Qatar will prove to the world that we are able to organise a mega sporting event to the highest standards – and in a way that reaffirms a commitment to innovation, while continuing to be inspired by the region’s rich traditions.”
Aboutrika, who supports Qatar 2022 as an ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy,
also heaped praise on Al Rayyan Venue – which will become the fourth World Cup stadium to open later this month.
The 40,000-capacity venue was built on the site of the deconstructed Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium and will become the new home of popular local team Al Rayyan Sports Club.
“As soon as you enter this stadium, you feel welcomed by the intimate atmosphere created by the seats being so close to the pitch,” said Aboutrika. “It is yet another architectural masterpiece which will welcome everyone in 2022.”
Aboutrika, who won the CAF Champions League on five occasions with Al Ahly, added:
“With under two years to go, Qatar is well on its way in terms of being ready to provide the stadiums, infrastructure and expertise required to host a tournament that will amaze everyone.”
Aboutrika also discussed the compact nature of Qatar’s tournament. The furthest distance between stadiums will be just 75km, meaning Qatar will host the most compact edition of the FIFA World Cup in modern history.
“The compact nature will provide a huge boost to teams, because it will save them from the exhaustion of air travel between venues, leaving more time for a quick recovery,” said Aboutrika. “Also, as a player, I can tell you that staying in one accommodation throughout the duration of a major tournament provides you with much needed stability and focus.”
Meanwhile, from a fan’s point of view, they will never be far from the action in 2022. Accommodation, stadiums, fan zones and tourist attractions will all be close by and connected by a comprehensive transportation network, including the recently launched Doha Metro. Fans will also have the chance to attend more than one match per day during the early stages of the tournament.
“Getting around so easily and having the ability to attend more than match a day will create a unique experience for everyone that will be attending the tournament from around the world.”
Despite Aboutrika’s outstanding career, including 38 goals in 100 matches for The Pharaohs, he never got the opportunity to represent his country at the World Cup. However, Egypt did qualify for Russia 2018 and will have high hopes of taking their place in Qatar for the 22nd edition of the tournament.
“For Egypt, qualifying again for the World Cup remains a dream for millions of our fans,” he said. “Having played in Russia 2018, we continue to have an excellent team, which under the leadership of the manager, Hossam El Badry, has a great chance of making an appearance at the world stage in two years’ time. I wish them the best of luck and I’ll be waiting for them to make an appearance in Qatar 2022.”