Al Janoub Stadium – 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium

This year, Qatar won the bidding on the location of the 2022 FIFA World Cup which will start on 20 November and will finish on 18 December 2022. One of the stadiums that are being converted for the Football World Cup 2022 is the Al Janoub Stadium, formerly known as Al-Wakrah Stadium, which is a retractable roof football stadium in Al-Wakrah, Qatar, inaugurated on 16 May 2019. Because of Qatar’s intense heat in the summer, the FIFA World Cup 2022 officials chose to hold the famous cup in November in Qatar. This year will see the 22nd running of the FIFA World Cup competition, and the second World Cup held in Asia. The entire cup is being held in 8 stadiums in Qatar during 64 matches between the 32 teams qualified.

One of the stadiums that are being converted for the Football World Cup 2022 is the Al Janoub Stadium, formerly known as Al-Wakrah Stadium, which is a retractable roof football stadium in Al-Wakrah, Qatar, inaugurated on 16 May 2019. Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid was the designer of the stadium, together with the firm AECOM. Al Janoub Stadium is served by a network of roads and expressways which provide easy access to visitors, especially for the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s spectators. The Al Janoub Stadium is located 4.5km from the Al Wakrah Station on the Red Line of the Doha Metro. The stadium will be served by shuttle bus services on match days. There are dedicated bus stops, safe pedestrian routes, and interconnected cycling paths.

The Football Stadium will be served by Al Wakrah station on the Red Line of the Doha Metro. The station is located 4.5km from the stadium and will be served by shuttle bus services on match days.

© Curated by Paula Pintos

What matches did and will the Al Janoub Stadium host?

The Al Janoub Football Stadium hosted many matches after its inauguration in 2019. The stadium hosted the semi-final match at the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, resulting in Saudi Arabia’s victory (1-0) on the 5th of December 2019. In December 2020, it hosted the 2020 AFC Champions League Final.

During the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, the Al Janoub Stadium hosted six matches. In terms of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Al Janoub Stadium will host seven matches, from Groups D, G, and H, including the following countries: France, Switzerland, Australia, Cameroon, Tunisia, Serbia, Denmark, Uruguay, and Ghana. Starting on 22 November 2022, at 22:00, France and Australia will play. Two days later, at 13:00, Switzerland and Cameroon will play at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Tunisia versus Australia is playing on 26 November, at 13:00, while Cameroon and Serbia will play two days later, at the same hour. Australia and Denmark will play against each other on 30 November, at 18:00, and the last match played on the Al Janoub Stadium is between Ghana and Uruguay on 2nd of December, at 18:00. The last match, outside of the Group stages, will be on the 5th of December, at 18:00, between the Winners of Group E and the Runners-up of Group F in Round of 16.

What is the history of the Al Janoub Stadium?

According to FIFA, the Al Janoub Stadium was built for the 2022 Football World Cup held in Qatar. As reported by FIFA, the preparations for construction started in 2014; however, the proper construction of the Al Janoub Stadium started in 2016. Initially, it was supposed to be completed by the end of 2018, but because of certain undiscussed delays, the stadium was inaugurated in 2019. The inspiration for the architecture for the Al Janoub Stadium stands in the traditional dhow boats in tribute to Al Wakrah’s seafaring past.

The Al Janoub Stadium was inaugurated on 16 May 2019, during the 2019 Amir Cup final played between Al Sadd SC and Al-Duhail SC in front of 38,678 people. This Football stadium was the second one to be completed in Qatar after the Al Khalifa International Stadium. To highlight the importance of the match, the Emir, namely the head of state of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attended it.

© thepeninsulaqatar

The inauguration started with a brief yet bright opening ceremony with music, and a laser show. Later, fireworks were launched over the Al Janoub Stadium. During the ceremony, a short video detailing Qatar’s pearling history was played on the big new screens that the Al Janoub Stadium has. Often known as the Qatari’s ‘miracle child’, Ghanim Al Muftah, because of overcoming his physical limits imposed by Caudal Regression Syndrome, delivered an introductory speech. Because of the Caudal Regression Syndrome, Ghanim Al Muftah has a decreased development of his lower spine.

In terms of its architecture, the Al Janoub Stadium features a neo-futurist design blended with a curvilinear postmodernist design. The appearance of the roof was inspired by the traditional Dhow boats’ sails which were used by pearl divers from the region of the Persian Gulf. As the designers discussed, the entire design wanted to give its spectators the feeling of being on a ship.

Al Janoub Stadium
© Curated by Paula Pintos

In terms of capacity, the Al Janoub Stadium has a capacity of 40,000 which is special for the 2022 FIFA World Cup; however, its capacity will be reduced after the 2022 FIFA World Cup to half, respectively a capacity of 20,000 seats.

Following the completion of the renovation process, the designer of the Al Janoub Stadium, Zaha Hadid, said that it was designed to be at the heart of an urban extension of the city, also creating community-based activities around and in the stadium on days that have no events within them. Because of its specific design, the Al Janoub Stadium is, as Zaha Hadid stated, meant to “resemble upturned dhow hulls arranged in a huddle to provide shade and shelter”. In terms of the materials used for the roof, the architectural firm, including its owner, mentioned that it is retractable, being made from pleated PTFE fabric and cables, while the roof itself is around 230 meters long.

The designers also mentioned information about the Al Janoub Stadium’s cooling system that, according to Zara Hadid’s architectural firm, prevents the stadium’s spectators from overheating, considering Qatar’s hot and arid climate. This system is known to be capable of cooling the spectators’ areas to 18°C and the field of play to 20°C.

According to Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), they compiled a detailed micro-climate analysis to inform the arena’s shape, aerodynamics, and optimal shading from the roof that incorporates a minimal amount of glass. They concluded that because of all these mentioned aspects, there was a significant contribution to the control of the temperature.

What facilities, legacy, and sustainability does the Al Janoub Stadium has?

Apart from the field itself, the Al Janoub Stadium consists of a multipurpose room, with spas, swimming pools, and a shopping center that has green roofs, while the entrance of the stadium is on a wooded square. Also, there are discussions that the Al Janoub Stadium will be accompanied by a wedding hall, a school, cycling, horse riding, restaurants, marketplaces, gyms, and even running tracks.

Because the Al Janoub Stadium will host matches in the Football World Cup 2022, its capacity is currently 40,000; however, after the 2022 FIFA World Cup finishes, its capacity will be reduced to half, respectively the Al Janoub Stadium will have a capacity of 20,000 seats after December 2022, becoming the Al-Wakrah Sports Club’s home, instead of the current Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium. In terms of the rest of the remaining half of the seats after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has claimed that they will be donated to other developing countries to support the international sporting infrastructure.  

According to FIFA, the Al Janoub Stadium is in one of the most historic and iconic areas in Al Wakrah which is known as a center for pearl diving, fishing, and the use of flowing designs, timber, and natural materials in the construction of the Al Janoub Stadium.

In terms of how the Al Janoub Stadium helped Qatar’s economy, it was reported by many newspapers that several Qatari companies were involved in the delivery of the Al Janoub Stadium, including MIDMAC and PORR Qatar, Coastal. They have manufactured the seats in the Al Janoub Stadium, while SOLB26 has manufactured the steel required for the construction of the stadium. Overall, more than 50% of the investments necessary to build the Al Janoub Stadium have supported the Qatari economy in many ways.

What do football stars have to say about Al Janoub Stadium?

Star names that were present at the inauguration were Ronald de Boer, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Spanish football hero Fernando Hierro, Youri Djorkaeff, and Sabri Lamouchi. Qatar’s track and field star Mutaz Barshim was also present, as well as the former president of Real Madrid, Ramon Calderon.

Other star names in the football industry have compliments to say about the Al Janoub Stadium, especially Australian legend Tim Cahill who hopes that his team will make the Al Janoub Stadium “a fortress during this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar”. Tim Cahill is currently the Chief Sports Officer at Aspire Academy in Qatar, helping to develop the next generation of talented players.

Cahill, who scored his country’s first goal in the finals in 2006, appearing in total at four World Cups for Australia, as The Peninsula online newspapers reported, discussed the Al Janoub Football Stadium and its outstanding facilities. When asked what he believes about the Al Janoub Stadium, Cahill answered that “it’s stunning”. He thinks that Australia is extremely fortunate to be playing all three games at the Al Janoub Stadium. He concluded that ultimately all those changes in the Stadium, the tournament, and everything else come back to delivering the best fan experience, and an electric atmosphere.

According to Rehmat, the author of the article “Amir inaugurates Al Janoub Stadium” published by The Peninsula online newspaper on 17 May 2019, Brazil’s retired World Cup star Carlos said that the Al Janoub Stadium looks amazing, while the officials involved in the construction have done an “amazing job”, describing everything as looking “top class”.

Hierro, as Rehmat reported, who played for Al Gharafa before retiring, appreciated the atmosphere in the Al Janoub Stadium, confirming his opinion that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be memorable. According to the same source, Cafu, who played in the 2002 FIFA World Cup for Brazil, mentioned that “Qatar is doing all the right things to stage a great World Cup”, considering that Qatar is ready to welcome the world to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as reported by Rehmat in 2019. The Al Janoub Football Stadium was also praised by Gullit, who guided the Netherlands to the 1988 EURO title, saying that the construction of this stadium is a sign to the world of what Qataris can do.

According to the GDN online news published on 21 October 2016, the Al Janoub Stadium was visited by a delegation of 10 French businesses, praising the work being done on the stadium. This delegation consisted of 29 members from different sectors, such as sports equipment, sustainability, media technology, and pyrotechnics. During the meeting, the French delegation was given a presentation by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Al Wakrah Project Manager, Thani Al Zarraa.

What were some issues during the construction of the Al Janoub Stadium?

Similar to other stadiums constructed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the construction of the Al Janoub Stadium was controversial. The issues discussed were about the treatment and status of migrant workers employed at construction sites. The Sport Resolutions website reported the findings from the Amnesty International report that has claimed that migrant workers are being trapped and exploited in Qatar, as they work for the construction of the Al Janoub Stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2022.  

According to the Amnesty International report from 2021, Qatar passed two new laws which “aimed to end restrictions on migrant workers leaving the country or changing jobs without their employer’s permission”. However, Amnesty International claimed that these laws were not exactly applied in the proper manner, while the employees in those situations were still bound to their employers. For instance, as the Sport Resolutions website reported, there was one migrant worker who said that she wanted to change jobs; however, she was told that she would have to pay 6,000 Qatari riyals (£1,200) for a no-objection certificate, or, if not, she would have been sent home. Considering that the sum they were asking for was more than five times her monthly salary, the allegations angered many fans.

On this issue, Mark Dummett, the Global Issues Programme Director, said that the previous example is one that happened to thousands of workers, who were at continued risk of exploitation by unscrupulous employers, many of them trying to change jobs and facing wage theft. However, the Global Issues Programme Director highlighted the uncertainty regarding the situations of these migrant workers which could become even worse after the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

According to the report published by Amnesty International on their official website on 26 August 2021, it is reported that “thousands of migrant workers have died suddenly and unexpectedly in Qatar, despite passing their mandatory medical tests before traveling to the country”. Claiming that most workers died due to the bad working conditions, Amnesty International described in detail the situations of a few deceased migrant workers. There was Mohammad Kaochar Khan amongst them, a plasterer on a construction site who was found dead in his bed on 15 November 2017. Another one was Yam Bahadur Rana, a security guard at the airport; a job that involved long hours sitting in the intense Qatari heat. He died at work. Sujan Miah, a pipe fitter on a project in the desert, was found unresponsive in the bed on the morning of 24 September 2020 after working in temperatures that exceeded 40°C in the four days before he died.

Considering their findings, Amnesty International called on the Qatari authorities to firstly strengthen the 2021 Ministerial Decision on heat stress “to ensure that employers are required to provide outdoor workers with breaks of an appropriate duration, in cooled, shaded areas, when there is an occupational risk of heat stress”, as well as receiving break times during the intense heat periods. Another request was to establish a specialist team of medical examiners and provide compensation to the families of the migrant workers who died after being exposed to high temperatures at work. Lastly, they asked the Qatari officials to conduct a transparent investigation into the causes of the past migrant workers’ deaths and establish mechanisms to fix the issues. In terms of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Amnesty International asked FIFA and the players to push the Qatari government to follow and accept these recommendations.

Since the Amnesty International report from 2021 was published, football players from Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands have all staged protests against the human rights abuses in Qatar. Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, has raised the concerns and advised everyone to investigate the issues accordingly because these issues regarding the migrant workers have already cast a dark shadow over the Football World Cup 2022.

During her speech, she said that “The FA is part of the Uefa Working Group on Workers’ Rights in Qatar and can press the Doha authorities over strengthening migrant worker protections, investigating worker deaths, and helping to fashion a tournament with a genuinely positive legacy. It’s more important than ever that England’s coaching staff, players, and supporters raise human rights issues ahead of next year’s kick-off”.

In response to these allegations brought, and found by Amnesty International, the Qatari government rejected them. The Qatari government claimed that the previous story of the migrant worker who has been told to pay the expensive fee for changing jobs is only one story out of 242,870 stories of the workers who have “successfully changed jobs since barriers were removed in September 2020, or from the more than 400,000 workers who have directly benefited from the new minimum wage through salary increases and other financial incentives”.  

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