We are just hours away from the referee’s whistle that will kick off the opening football match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the world’s most important sports competition. This is the first World Cup to take place in a Middle Eastern country. The whistle on November 20 will resound through the stands of Al Bayt Stadium built by the Webuild Group, picked to host the debut match between Qatar and Ecuador.
This huge, futuristic structure designed to resemble the shape of a traditional Bedouin tent will also host the opening ceremony on the same day, a planetary event that is expected to be attended not only by heads of state but also by music and movie stars.
The 2022 World Cup will be celebrated inside one of the eight stadiums built by Qatar to get ready for this big appointment. These eight complex and modern stadiums are capable of seating between 60,000 (as in the case of Al Bayt) to 80,000 people (the capacity of the Lusail stadium that will host the final). They are all concentrated in the Doha area, the country’s capital that is also its urban and social hub.
Seven of these ultra-modern facilities are equipped with air-conditioning systems to mitigate Qatar’s hot climate, and also designed according to sustainability criteria, from the use of materials to their final destination. The Al Bayt, for example, will be partially dismantled by reducing its capacity; while Stadium 974 (a name inspired by the number of shipping containers that make up its structure) will be dismantled entirely. Webuild has done its part in this innovating engineering by creating the most aesthetically striking stadium, a Bedouin tent of boundless dimensions sprouting a stone’s throw from the desert.
Qatar world cup stadiums: Al Bayt Stadium, a hyper-technological tent
“The Al Bayt is a home where everyone feels united, and each person feels closer to the others. It is a symbol of what the World Cup itself represents,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the inauguration of Al Bayt Stadium located in the city of Al Khor, about 46 kilometres (28 miles) from Doha, which was also chosen to host one of the two semi-finals of the World Cup.
A stadium inspired by the principles of sustainability, much in the same way as a Bedouin tent. And it is meant to represent the value of inclusion. The Al Bayt has been awarded a five-star GSAS rating issued by the Gulf Organization for Research & Development (GORD), which is one of the highest sustainability standards recognized in the MENA region. The award is based not only on energy, efficiency, and safety parameters, but also on the ability to reuse the facility after the event, local community development, and protection of the local environment.
In the case of the Al Bayt, sustainability goes hand in hand with engineering technology because the stadium, built on a desert plateau, stands on raised ground 14 metres (45 feet) above sea level. It also has unique features in terms of materials. All the facades are made of a special techno polymer called PTFE, while conditioned air is diffused through vents that are located under the spectators’ seats, creating real cooling spaces. The stadium is also designed to be partly dismantled, reducing its capacity from the current 60,000 to 32,000 seats. Part of it will be converted into a hotel. These are all requests from the World Cup organizing committee that Webuild Group turned into reality, backed by its long experience gained precisely in the field of large stadiums.
Italia 90 and the two stadiums that became a symbol of Italy
At a time when Italian cities Rome and Milan and their big football clubs are in talks to build their own new stadiums, a chorus of voices is rising in defense of two temples of Italian football: Milan’s Meazza at San Siro and the Stadio Olimpico in Italy’s capital. These are two unique structures that the Webuild Group rebuilt for the Italia 90 World Cup in 1990.
Two symbolic works and two examples of a new way of experiencing sport: the Meazza’s vertical stands rise straight up in height, reducing the distance from the field to a minimum; the Olimpico’s horizontal design allows for a large athletics track and a large audience capacity, making it a venue that can be used for more than just sporting events.
It took three years to rebuild the Olimpico, bringing the stands closer to the field and covering it entirely with a tensile structure. Once finished, the capacity of the stadium increased from 54,000 to 82,000 seats. San Siro, on the other hand, took two years of work including adding a third ring of bleachers, carried out by a pool of companies led by Lodigiani (Webuild Group).
After the renovation, the Times of London ranked Meazza second among the world’s most beautiful stadiums, and it is still among the world’s 25 largest facilities with a capacity of 80,000.
Webuild and its long tradition of stadiums.
From the Al Bayt, the latest engineering marvel, to the National Stadium in Lagos, Webuild Group’s history is dotted with the construction of these sports and entertainment giants. Webuild’s archive of stadiums built in the past century includes several facilities in Romania, Gabon, Italy, Thailand, and the National Stadium in Nigeria, which had 55,000 seats at the time of its construction in 1972. In Thailand, the Group has built the 20,000-seat Changmai sports complex, which is located in the town of the same name and also includes a training soccer field, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and an indoor gymnasium with a seating capacity of 5,000. Also in Thailand, Webuild has built sports complex located in the southern province of Songkla. Here, too, within an area of 100,000 square meters stands a 20,000-seat stadium and a multipurpose center equipped with a swimming pool, indoor gymnasium, and tennis courts. Countries around the globe want to support the development of sports, which — from the time of the first Athenian Olympics to the present — remains one of the most effective tools for peace and cohesion among peoples.