The stadium worth $675 million which Qatar will host next year’s FIFA World Cup final was test-run for its first sellout test on Friday, with a game with two champions, the Egyptian as well as Saudi champions.
Seventy-two hours from the tournament’s start the organizers claimed that the 80,000-capacity Lusail Iconic FIFA World Cup final was full for the pre-match show by Egyptian star Amr Diab and the match that saw Al Hilal beat Egyptians Zamalek with penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Lusail was the FIFA World Cup final to be officially opened and Hassan Al-Thawadi, head of the Qatari organizing committee, said the ceremony was “an emotional moment”.
“It is the culmination of a 13-year journey,” he said to beIN Sports.
The FIFA World Cup final, which is shaped like a typical Arabic bowl is located at the heart of a newly-constructed city that is being constructed north of the small Gulf state’s capital city. It will play host to up to 10 World Cup matches, including the final match on 18 December.
No further games are scheduled prior to the start of the tournament on November 20, however.
The match was a trial of security, the border security system, and the multi-billion dollar metro with a driverless train that will bear the burden and transport over a million fans throughout Doha in the course of this year’s World Cup.
To alleviate pressure on the main international airport Qatar this week opened an old airport that was used by the rulers of the country as well as other high-profile VIPs.
A large number of Saudi and Egyptian supporters traveled across the Abu Samra frontier in buses following the departure of their cars at their side on the Saudi side.
Everyone had to submit an application for a unique fan ID, called the Hayya card, which all fans need to access Qatar at the time of the World Cup.
The system for processing in the tent in Abu Samra was being used for the first time. Qatari authorities expect hundreds of Saudis to assist their national team in the competition.
“We entered with just our passport and the Hayya card,” said Muhammad Mujahid, an Egyptian living in Saudi Arabia. “It was simple and well-organized.”
“We hope that this is a promising start for a good World Cup for all the Arab world,” added another Zamalek fan Ahmed Mohi El-Din Othman.
The FIFA selection in 2010, to give this World Cup to Qatar has been criticized for the nation’s extreme wealth and treatment of foreigners and those belonging to the LGBTQ community.
However, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has claimed that this will be a “best-ever” World Cup and that fans from abroad will enjoy an experience similar to the experience of a “child going to Disneyland for the first time and seeing the attractions and the toys”.
FIFA declares it has confirmed that 2.45 million of 3 million tickets sold have been sold, and a final sale online will take place later in the month.