Qatar World Cup & The Future of Sports Stadiums

You’re likely tired of hearing about the controversy.

From the decision to hold it the tournament during the fall instead of the summer to questions surrounding the construction of the stadiums and the availability of libations during the games, it is undoubtably controversial.

But, one major perk of awarding the World Cup to a country that lacked sufficient infrastructure to host the matches is that these stadiums will be some of the most technologically advanced in the world and should provide a model for the future of stadium architecture.

The most impressive goal of this World Cup is its pledge for sustainability.

FIFA, along with the hosts, say that they aim to make the tournament carbon neutral, although some experts say this is unattainable. Seven of the eight stadiums will have parts repurposed after the tournament is over – an inventive solution to a problem that has plagued Olympic host cities in recent years.

Two of the stadiums will be made of over 80% recycled materials, including Stadium 974, the most innovative of them all, which will be made entirely from recycled shipping containers and repurposed after the tournament.

Renderings of some Qatar soccer venues for the 2022 World Cup

One of the more applicable innovations are the cooling systems.

Even in the winter, temperatures in Qatar can rise to the 80s, but engineers have developed a smart network of temperature monitors. The monitors track temperature changes throughout the stadium and transmit live data to a central system for AI analysis, providing updates that will redirect cold air as necessary, even directly to individual rows of seats. While this system was expensive to implement, this could be a standard feature in outdoor stadiums in the future as it projects 40% energy savings going forward.

Beyond the stadiums, sensors are being placed around Doha to gather live traffic and public transportation updates, directing fans to the best routes with the least amount of frustration. Fans can connect to this system to receive traffic-conscious directions in and out of stadiums and to locate nearby amenities. We’re holding our breath on this one.

Lastly and perhaps most likely to cause international incident, a new semi-automated technology will help refs make offsides calls. A series of cameras around the stadium will track players movements and alert a ref of a potential offsides. While the decision is still ultimately up to the ref, this system could go a long way towards making sure offsides calls are fair and consistent. Nothing could go wrong with using this new system at a World Cup right? Right?

This year’s world cup will feel very different across the board.

Although a seasonal change with controversial location and limited alcohol consumption (that is all but guaranteed to create societal and legal quagmires in a hyper conservative country) may dominate the media around the event, the 2023 World Cup may will likely also be known as one that shaped the future of sports stadiums.