The FIFA World Cup is a true celebration of football, one that takes place every four years, and has truly been a tournament to remember this past month, at Qatar 2022, where the quality of the competition on and off the pitch has been unparalleled.
While the football takes centre stage during the 28 days of the competition proper, preparations have been made since Qatar’s bid was accepted in 2010, with plenty of work needed, from the seven brand-new venues erected and another one renovated from the ground to other infrastructure projects, like the Doha Subway or the expansion of the Hamad International Airport, crucial landmarks in Qatar.
Tens of thousands of workers put in daily shifts for everything to be completed and the state-of-the-art venues to be erected and now they had centre stage in the final week of Qatar 2022, where they were given a huge opportunity to enjoy themselves, sharing the field of the “Al Thumama” Stadium in Doha with iconic names of football’s history, in a friendly match.
In a specially arranged game, 24 workers who helped deliver key FIFA World Cup projects overseen by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), joined some of the most decorated players in the history of the game. The event was supported by the Qatar 2022 legacy programme, Generation Amazing Foundation, which per its mission to champion inclusivity and equal opportunities for all through football, provided the kits for the match.
The workers had been part of projects related to the eight state-of-the-art stadiums and 42 training sites and were selected based on their passion for football, their involvement in community football programmes and their past participation in the Workers’ Cup – an annual tournament organised by the SC and Qatar Football Association.
They had the chance to feature against a FIFA Legends team, that included Marco Materazzi, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Youri Djorkaeff, David Beckham, John Terry and Alessandro del Piero, with two 30-minutes halves played in the “Al Thumama” Stadium.
“It’s a great idea from FIFA to give back to some of the workers who have put so much hard work into the fantastic stadiums. To open the stadium up to other fans to come and see [it] free of charge, as well. It’s fantastic. It’s just great for them to come and play with us, but also for us to meet them personally, and experience the pitch. As ex-players, it’s always nice,” said former England captain, John Terry.
The FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, also chimed in, being a referee for 10 minutes and even booking Italy legend Alessandro del Piero. It did not matter, though, as del Piero led his team, which won 2-0, courtesy of goals from the Italy legend and Portugal’s former striker, Nuno Gomes.
The game proved a hit for the workers’ team, who had the chance to share the pitch with amazing talents from football’s history, which left a true mark on the players lucky enough to feature against their idols.
“It was amazing. I really enjoyed everything. It was like a dream come true to see some of these guys. They are legends. The emotions were amazing, I enjoyed every bit of it. I was excited to see Alessandro Del Piero, especially, and Clarence Seedorf. They are amazing players. I went one-on-one with Materazzi. That was one of the exciting moments for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing with these guys or seeing them, so it was an amazing experience,” said Justice Boye Odoi from Ghana.
The game was attended by more than 5400 friends and colleagues of the workers, who enjoyed an evening outside of the tournament, where former legends gave back to the people that strived to make such a mega sporting event take place.