Doha, Qatar: Footballers Lianne Sanderson and Ashley Nick have praised plans for the FIFA World Cup 2022, saying fans, players and officials are in for a pleasant surprise when Qatar hosts world football’s premier event in just over three years’ time.
The duo, who both play for Juventus FC Women, were in Qatar during a month-long stint as analysts for beIN Sports during the FIFA Women’s World Cup and took time out to visit the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) to see the plans for 2022 and beyond.
Both were first-time visitors to Qatar and they were full of praise for the country, its people and the plans for the first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Arab world.
“I’ve been here for two weeks now and it’s been an unbelievable experience,” said Sanderson. “I had never been to Qatar in my life, but I will definitely be back again. I’ve loved every minute of it and I never want it to end.”
She continued: “I think it’s going to be a magnificent World Cup. Everything has been so well planned and put together. There has been some negativity of course – but that happens with every World Cup and I’m certain that people’s minds will be changed when they see what this country has to offer. I leave feeling very excited for this.”
As well as getting a glimpse of plans for 2022 and what the tournament experience will be like for the 1 million fans expected to visit during the tournament, Sanderson and Nick were also given an overview of the legacy projects associated with the tournament. These included the re-usable upper tiers in many of the stadiums and the pioneering cooling technology being developed in Qatar.
Nick was also keen to discuss the fan experience, the hospitality and general welcoming atmosphere of the country – adding that people who have not visited the Middle East may have misconceptions about the region; misconceptions that she is keen to correct.
“Being from America, people sometimes make you feel a little bit scared to travel to this part of the world,” she said. “Now that I’ve been here, I would love to go on every news station and say to them that it’s not what you’re putting out there. It’s beautiful, it’s friendly, it’s clean – everyone has been really polite. It’s also safe. We’ve been told it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and you can definitely feel that.
“I’m really impressed, and so many people don’t know the truth of what it’s like here. I’ve been calling all my friends and telling them they that need to book a flight today, it’s so beautiful. It’s magical.”
Following the tour of the Legacy Pavilion, the duo then travelled to Khalifa International Stadium to take part in a Generation Amazing training session, and meet some of the country’s young female footballers.
Among its numerous other activities, the SC’s flagship CSR programme provides a platform for young girls – as well as boys – to participate in sport. Something else Sanderson and Nick were full of praise for.
“I’ve done a lot of work in this field in many different countries; places like India, Jamaica – and this is something that has a special place in my heart,” Sanderson continued. “Trying to inspire the next generation of young girls wanting to play football is something that I genuinely feel strongly about and enjoy doing. What better way to do this than bringing football’s biggest tournament to their doorstep?”
She continued: “It’s not just the social legacy plans that are impressive, so much more thought has gone into it; whether it be the donation of seats to other places, the commitment to inspiring a new generation of young sportspeople, the precincts they’re building for the communities around the stadiums. It’s not just for 2022, but for a long time after that and that’s so inspiring.”
Nick added: “Sport builds so many good things other than being a professional – it builds confidence, teamwork, awareness, discipline and that feeling that something that you love can bring you joy, no matter your skill level. And that is very much a part of Generation Amazing’s message.”