Hosting AFC Champions League offers important milestone for return of continental football and 2022
In a video interview, Nasser Al Khater, CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ spoke about the importance of the Qatar Football Association (QFA) stepping in to host the remaining matches of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League in the West region, which will take place in Qatar between September 14 and October 3.
Top teams from across the AFC Western Zone will compete over 39 matches from the group stage through until the semi-final where the winner will meet their counterpart from the Eastern Zone to lay claim to Asia’s most prestigious club competition.
The competition was suspended in March of this year as part of a global response to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to praising the return of continental football, Al Khater also discussed the stringent safety measures put in place by organizers to ensure the tournament was safe and secure for players and officials involved.
"From the very beginning, we have worked with the Qatar Football Association, the Qatar Stars League and the Asian Football Confederation to ensure that all possible safety precautions are taken so that the tournament is delivered safely for everyone involved," said Al Khater.
"This includes putting in place a series of measures at every step of the user journey from arrival at Hamad International Airport to hotels, training sites, and stadiums," he added.
"The AFC Champions League is a prestigious tournament that we are honoured to host. We are particularly thrilled to have been able to step in and help the AFC at this late stage of the tournament and play a role in facilitating the gradual, safe return of Asian football to stadiums – on behalf of football lovers around the world," he added.
One of the necessary safety measures has been the restriction of fans entering stadiums to watch the matches, with venue capacities strictly limited throughout the tournament due to COVID-19.
"While it is unfortunate that matches will not be open to fans, we believe in the power of football to bring people together – even if this means coming together digitally or through television screens," Al Khater said.
Three of the four stadiums to be used in the tournament are FIFA World Cup 2022™ stadiums. Al Janoub, Education City, and Khalifa International Stadiums will all host matches during the tournament.
The 2020 AFC Champions League will mark the first international sporting event to be held in the 40,000-seat Education City Stadium, which hosted its first official game as part of the local QNB Stars League earlier this month.
"The AFC Champions League will be yet another substantial event that Qatar will host as one of numerous test events, to maximize our preparedness well ahead of the FIFA World Cup™ in just over two years from now," Al Khater said.
"We are particularly excited to showcase once again our innovative cooling technology that will guarantee a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius at a time when we still haven’t yet made it through the summer’s heat," he mentioned.
The remaining matches of the AFC Champions League in the West region will bring together teams from Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and hosts Qatar. To learn more about the tournament, click here.
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