US can benefit from Qatar’s expertise in organising 2026 World Cup: official

The 2026  World Cup will be jointly held by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The United States could benefit from Qatar’s expertise in organising the 2026 World Cup events, an official has said following a memorandum of understanding signed recently between the two countries to exchange expertise in this field.

In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Mohamed Barakat, the US-Qatar Business Council managing director, praised Qatar World Cup’s management of crowds and stadiums, and the use of technology, adding that the US should benefit from all this experience.

He stressed Qatar’s success in organising the World Cup events, expressing his admiration for what it has achieved.

The next World Cup, which will be jointly held between the United States, Canada and Mexico, will feature 48 teams, 16 more than the current format.

When plans were announced for the tournament in 2017, FIFA revealed the group stage will see three groups of 16, with the top two qualifying for the knockout stages, which would begin with the last 32.

There is also a lot of technical expertise that can be exchanged between the organisers, Barakat said.

“Since the matches will take place in different states, such as New Jersey, Atlanta or Los Angeles, and each of these places has different management patterns, as the metro in New Jersey is completely different from Los Angeles, so Qatar’s experience in the field of transportation, especially the metro, will be beneficial, and the organizing committees in each state will benefit from Qatar’s expertise in this field, even in Canada and Mexico,” he explained.

Barakat also addressed the ongoing criticism of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, calling the relentless campaign against Doha “unfair.”

Qatar has come under increased international scrutiny on human rights and LGBT issues. However, the World Cup host nation has accused critics of “double standards” in singling out Qatar for unprecedented criticism and ignoring reforms and improvements made to address concerns.

Barakat said the ongoing criticism against Qatar began years ago but later
intensified a week before the start of the World Cup, adding that Doha has already achieved smooth success running the 32-team group stage.

“Heads of state and ordinary fans have experienced it firsthand and no matter what they do or say, it won’t change what people see on the ground,” he said.

He also pointed to the reforms that Qatar introduced to improve migrant labour rights, including the adoption of the minimum wage and dismantling of the controversial kafala system, adding that Qatar’s progress over the years should also be highlighted.

Despite the criticisms faced, Qatar made FIFA history with more than 2.4 people attending the group stage matches this week.

The number was higher than that of the 2018 World Cup in Russia for the group stages, FIFA said in the report.

Meanwhile, at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha, more than one million people visited the venue.

Before Qatar 2022 kicked off on November 20, the host country said it was expecting more than one million visitors.

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