The CEO of the tournament’s Organizing Committee Nassel al Khater spoke about the response from India in 2018 edition, challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic and more.

The organizers of the FIFA World Cup are expecting better viewership from Indian audience in the 2022 edition because of it taking place in Qatar. Due to the time difference, the games that take place in the 2022 edition will be at extremely convenient times for the Indian audience – including most taking place in the prime-time evening slot.

The CEO of the organizing committee for the FIFA World Cup, Nasser al Khater spoke to PTI about their expectations for the tournament and why it should be more popular than the 2018 edition. “It (FIFA World Cup) may not be as gigantic (in India) as cricket World Cup, but the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia drew broadcast audiences of nearly 300m in India and this is only going to go further up in 2022.

“In India, majority of matches will kick-off at convenient times. During group stage, the first game will start at 15:30 IST and the last game at 00:30 IST. The second and third matches at 18:30 and 21:30 IST respectively, which will both be consumed by prime-time evening broadcast audience in India,” said Khater. He also added that Qatar is committed to delivering an affordable and exciting experience to anyone who visits the country during the World Cup.

“We are committed to delivering an exciting, memorable and affordable FIFA World Cup for everyone visiting in 2022, particularly in light of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the hard times we live in, we will ensure that 2022 remains affordable for everyone.”

Moreover, Khater has also made it clear that Indian clubs are more than welcome to use the world-class training facilities in Qatar whenever they want. He said, “Indian clubs are always welcome to Qatar, whether for training or competition. I am certain that anyone who makes the trip will enjoy world-class facilities and our renowned hospitality.”

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He also confirmed that Qatar are using cooling systems during games for players to cope with the climate and are also willing to share the technology with countries like India – where playing in a hot environment can become tiresome for many.

“This was driven by several legacy considerations…to use these venues year-round in the lead up to and after 2022. This was a benefit witnessed firsthand during the AFC Champions League and a demonstration of how this legacy is taking shape before 2022,” Khater continued. “We are definitely open to sharing our knowledge and expertise when it comes to the cooling technology with any country with a similar climate to Qatar who may benefit from it.”

The qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this summer, but are expected to re-commence sometime next year. India have been unable to win any of their games from the Asian circuit and will need a miracle to keep their hopes of qualifying alive in the games ahead.

France are the defending champions of the World Cup after having won it in the 2018 edition. Meanwhile, Qatar are the only side to have qualified due to their position as host nation, allotting them an automatic slot in the grand tournament.

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