John Arne Riise: Qatar's 'unprecedented' compact plans will benefit everyone
A compact 2022 FIFA World Cup™ and subsequent lack of travel time between games will ensure an 'unprecedented' experience for players and fans alike, according to former Norway international John Arne Riise.
During an exclusive interview with sc.qa, the former Liverpool defender spoke about his experiences while visiting Qatar and, following a visit to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy's (SC) Legacy Pavilion, outlined what visitors should expect in 2022.
"I have no doubts the experience of all those attending the World Cup will be great – it will be an unprecedented experience for everyone involved," he said. "The stadiums are all very close together, which is a big advantage for the players and fans."
Qatar's eight proposed stadiums and multiple training facilities sit within an easily accessible distance of one another. The furthest two apart – Al Bayt Stadium and Al Wakrah Stadium – are separated by just 55km.
Meanwhile, the shortest – Khalifa International Stadium and Qatar Foundation Stadium – are only 5km apart. All of which allows fans and players to remain in one place throughout the duration of their stay in Qatar. Something, Riise says, will make for a stress-free experience for all involved.
"The fans, players and coaches can all stay in one place comfortably – it's unprecedented," he continued. "They do not have to go through continuous travel, as was the case in other tournaments."
Riise, Norway's record appearance maker, also took time to discuss the fortunes of his former side Liverpool, where he played between 2001 and 2008.
The 37-year-old began by saying how impressed he was with their 5-2 Champions League semi-final first-leg victory against another of his former sides, A.S. Roma.
"But I think they will qualify for the final, then it's going to be a tough test against champions Real Madrid or Bayern Munich."
During the enthralling encounter in England, star man Mohammed Salah scored two and supplied the assists for two more. It was one of numerous standout performances for the recently named English Player of the Year, who has now recorded 43 goals during his debut season at Anfield.
Consistency that has many calling for the Egyptian to be the man to break the 11-year Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo stronghold on the World Player of the Year award – and Riise is among them.
"The performance of Mohamed Salah and the decisive goals he has scored throughout the season has everybody talking about him," he continued. "It is not easy to score as many as he has done in any season, let alone the first season with a new team. That's why, for me, he deserves to take the award from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi this year. He has been exceptional."