With the first game of the FIFA 2022 World Cup due to kick off in less than three weeks on 20 November, football fans across the world are waiting to see how their teams fare. For us at AFL, it is more than just being a spectator to world class football, but seeing the world class Lusail Stadium, that the AFL team has been involved in the design of since 2016, highlighted on the world stage. Here AFL Associate Director, Neil Tootill gives his account of going to one of the pre-World Cup matches at the stadium back in early Autumn.
"I have just come back from the first full capacity game at the Lusail Stadium – where for once instead of being there in a hard hat, checking design and compliance, I was there as a spectator at the Lusail Super Cup game (Al Hilal vs Zamalek).
I got to the ground at 6pm for a 9pm kick off – to say I was a tad excited, is an understatement! I decided to take the fans route to the stadium, via the Metro, to see the stadium as the fans would when they arrive for the World Cup games. And she looked ace, really ACE, so much it brought a tear to my eye. The six years of lost sleep, worry, grey hairs, hair loss, my wife saying, ‘You’re not off again?’ was all worth it, 100% I'd do it all again.
When I finally got through security and bag check I had a walk round the overlay a couple of times and the stadium perimeter, which gave me a great view of the façade of the building – and it looked amazing, really world class.
Exiting the concourse through to the terrace seating bowl for the first time with fans was a special feeling, the stadium looked great. I had plenty of time to sit in a few different locations and found that sightlines and views from every seat were excellent. The design of the bowl means that the spectators are as close to the pitch as possible which will make for a great atmosphere for the FIFA World Cup (FWC).
The overall experience of the stadium visit didn’t let me down. The effort from the AFL team to get to this stage has been truly astounding – so much hard work, agility in producing a design that was fit for purpose as well as aesthetically breath-taking. In the words of Old Mr Grace from are you Being Served - 'You've all done very well'. We should all be proud of being part of the team that has designed and created this amazing building, that will not only house the FIFA World Cup 2022 but live on as a spectacular stadium for years to come."