Qatar to host pan-Arab tournament in 2021 as a test event for 2022 World Cup

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, June 26: 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar will host a pan-Arab football tournament in 2021 as test event for the quadrennial extravaganza to be staged a year later.

The 22-team invitational tournament to be held from December 1 to 18, 2021, will be contested by Arab nations from Africa and Asia and feature home-based players only, with the matches scehduled to take place at the same stadiums which host the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

The tournament will be conducted by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy -- the local organising wing of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar's proposal to to conduct the pan-Arab tournament got the nod at FIFA Council meeting held on Thursday (June 25) which also took some other important decisions like awarding the rights to host 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup to Australia and New Zealand and to set up a massive relief plan to combat the severe damage caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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However, the game's global governing body is yet to take a decision on the rescheduling of the new FIFA Club World Cup tournament which has been postponed from July 2021 due to the postponement of Euro 2020 and the Copa America.

Qatar had hosted the 2019 FIFA Club World Championship which was won by Liverpool, while the Middle East country also made its debut in the Copa America tournament as one of the invitees along with Japan.

It may be recalled that in a break from tradition, the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup was pushed back to a winter window because of the scorching summer temperatures in the Middle East country.

The tournament is scheduled to be held from November 21 to December 18. Qatar is building only eight stadiums for the one-month tournament and are promising to deliver the completed venues two years before the kick off.

Work on three stadiums are complete while two more are expected to be ready by the end of the year.

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Work on Qatar's eight World Cup stadiums and mega-projects linked to the tournament has continued despite the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The SC is planning to make Qatar 2022, the first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East and Arab World, a grand spectacle.

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