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Football for All

As Qatar focused on setting a new World Cup benchmark for accessibility, Qatar Foundation was at the center of ensuring this goal was realized.

With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ intended to be the most accessible edition of the tournament in history, Qatar Foundation’s (QF) activations, programs, partnerships, and expertise were all harnessed to support this aim, amplify the message that accessibility and inclusivity are cornerstones of a strong and united world, and help to make the greatest footballing show on earth one that everybody – of all ages, nationalities, cultures, and abilities – could enjoy to the maximum.

QF’s commitment to contributing to a truly accessible tournament was crystallized in the title of its World Cup campaign, reflecting the ethos and spirit of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and the organization’s own commitment to providing inclusive opportunities that everyone can access, explore, and benefit from: It’s Only Football if it’s For All.

"Our mission is built around empowering people, and we believe that empowerment happens when pathways for involvement, engagement, and discovery are opened up to all."

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al ThaniVice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation

Discovering Qatar

To help people with disabilities – whether they are residents or visitors – discover everything Qatar has to offer during and beyond the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – QF launched a special accessibility guide, Qatar for All.

Built entirely on personal experiences and recommendations from people with disabilities in Qatar, and made available in multiple versions that include text-only and braille, Qatar for All – which will be continually updated – includes more than 30 accessible attractions and experiences, making accessibility-specific information easily available so guests can get the most from their time in Qatar.

Respecting the fact that accessibility does not only relate to disability, the guide can be used by everyone, including elderly people with limited mobility, families with young children, and those who prefer multi-sensory experiences. It can be accessed at

“We hope the increased awareness around accessibility catalyzed by the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will provide momentum to drive a culture of accessibility across the country, making it a permanent part of our social fabric,” said Mayan Zebeib, Chief Communications Officer, QF.

"Qatar’s commitment to accessibility speaks to its readiness to truly welcome fans of all abilities to enjoy the very best of what the country has to offer."

Sheikha Hessa Al-ThaniHead of Marketing and Planning, Qatar Tourism

The Qatar for All accessibility guide has been viewed more than 24,000 times

Delivering Accessibility

With a friendly army of volunteers being crucial to the success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, QF made sure they had the specialist skills needed to keep supporters with accessibility needs safe, and smiling.

Through a QF partnership with FIFA, accessibility volunteers were recruited and trained to support the delivery of the tournament, equipping them with the skills and awareness necessary to create a welcoming environment for differently abled football fans.

These volunteers were part of the visitor experience on offer throughout the FIFA Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park, within sensory havens on the Corniche, and along the route to the Education City Stadium, with Ryan Moignard, Special Needs Football Coach at QF, saying: “Volunteers are key to the success of all mega-events, and much more so at events that have people with accessibility needs in attendance.

“I would go as far as saying volunteering to support people with accessibility needs is one of the most impactful forms of volunteering anyone can do.”

"Our presence as volunteers can make or break the experience for someone with accessibility needs, and that’s what inspires me to keep doing it."

Tom EasthamAccessibility volunteer

247 accessibility volunteers were trained by QF experts, along with 10 Education City heritage volunteers and around 240 QF educational volunteers

Painting a Picture

QF had an inclusive vision for how it could support a truly accessible FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – and, in the case of one initiative that supported the tournament experience, quite literally.

Live audio description of the opening and closing ceremonies, and the tournament’s matches, was provided to blind and partially sighted fans by a team from the Master of Arts in Audiovisual Translation Program at QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

This described to users of the service everything happening around the stadium – from the pitch to the stands – to create a ‘verbal picture’ allowing them to imagine the scene and fully immerse themselves in the action and excitement.

As Machaille Hassan Al-Naimi, Strategic Initiatives Executive Officer, QF, explained: “This is just one illustration of how Qatar and QF are using sport to break down barriers, dissolve boundaries, and nurture a culture of accessibility and empowerment that has enduring social benefit within and beyond our nation.”

"We strive to create a space where everyone can be part of the event, even if they don’t see it with their eyes."

Nahwan Al-AswadiA graduate of the Audiovisual Translation program and an audio description volunteer

4 audio description commentators – 2 English, 2 Arabic – covered the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ opening and closing ceremonies

19 volunteers were trained to provide the audio description service throughout the tournament

A Stadium for Everyone

Accessibility and inclusivity were at the core of QF’s contribution to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – and of the Education City Stadium, where some of the tournament’s biggest stories were written.

Among the stadium features aimed at ensuring everyone at the ‘Diamond in the Desert’ had an unforgettable and immersive World Cup experience was its sensory room, designed for those with autism and sensory access requirements and created by QF, FIFA, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the Qatar Institute for Speech and Hearing, and the Sensory Souk.

The room – complete with interactive games, fidget toys, and noise-canceling headphones – was created for those who find the stadium environment too stimulating and overwhelming, and regulating that environment in a way that still allows them to embrace the game and the atmosphere.

As well as trained volunteers helping fans with special needs to their seats, the stadium also incorporated simple-to-understand wayfinding signage, tactile paving for the visually impaired, high-visibility strips to guide people, and low counters at concession stands to allow easier access.

"We have a responsibility to ensure the perception shifts to normalizing sports across all abilities, and for access to all functions within the sports industry to be for everyone."

Nihal Al-SalehProgram Manager at QF’s Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future, and an advocate for accessibility and inclusivity

Inclusivity and Empowerment

With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ making Qatar’s sporting scene more vibrant than ever, in 2022 QF set out to enhance the nation’s capacity to teach sports to children with disabilities – by launching its Coaching the Coach program.

A partnership between QF’s Ability Friendly Program – which provides year-round inclusive sporting and developmental opportunities – and the Translation and Interpreting Institute at HBKU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the program teaches theoretical principles and practical sessions where participants interact with expert trainers and children with special needs.

The program’s goal is to develop multi-skilled coaches capable of training children with a range of needs, who use appropriate terminology, are disability confident, and can plan coaching sessions that engage young players. Each of its four levels focuses on a particular profile, providing a safe and nurturing environment for children who love sports.

"I hope that the football coaching community will use these opportunities to create inclusive spaces that offer football for all."

Dr. Josélia NevesProfessor and Associate Dean of Social Engagement, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, HBKU

The Coaching the Coach course profiles are:

  • Bronze Level: Disability, autism, and moderate to severe learning disorders
  • Silver Level: All Bronze Level profiles and visual impairment
  • Gold Level: All Bronze/Silver Level profiles and physical impairment
  • Platinum Level: All Bronze/Silver/Gold Level profiles and deafness

Opening Up Opportunities

As QF’s Ability Friendly Program goes from strength to strength, it formed a new partnership in 2022 to train coaches at the Paris Saint-Germain Qatar Academy to support its inclusive sports courses – which will provide more sporting and leisure opportunities for people across Qatar.

Meanwhile, to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the program held an Ability Friendly Fun Day, giving children and adults of all abilities the chance to enjoy sports including football, swimming, and cricket alongside QF’s ability friendly coaches.

And football icon David Beckham saw the Ability Friendly Program’s work for himself, fielding questions from children, taking part in football drills and a penalty shootout, and meeting the program’s coaches during a visit to Education City.

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Beckham also tested the services catering to fans with different needs and abilities on their way to the Education City Stadium, including a sensory mobile trailer for those needing a break from the cacophony surrounding a big game – and they won the former England captain’s praise.

"This is an example of the power of sport and the power of this tournament."

David Beckham

40+ people aged from five to 28 participated in QF’s Ability Friendly Fun Day

Talking Accessibility

The accessibility and inclusivity of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ was spotlighted by experts from QF and other organizations at forums ahead of and during the tournament.

Speaking at the Accessibility Forum held by tournament organizers at Education City, Alexandra Chalat, QF’s Director of World Cup Legacy and Community Engagement, spoke of how accessibility is “a key component of QF’s mission to unlock potential and education”, and how the World Cup has led to QF looking at how its accessibility-focused sports programs and partnerships can reach more young people.

Meanwhile, Qatar National Library hosted an event where representatives from the SC and Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind discussed what Qatar has achieved in the field of accessibility, and the challenges that still lie ahead.

And as the tournament began to take shape, speakers from QF and the SC explored the immediate response from fans and visitors to Qatar’s accessibility efforts in a QF-organized panel session at Doha’s Host Country Media Center.

"It’s not just about speaking of accessibility or making sure that people have access to a football field – it’s much more than that. It’s creating access to opportunities, time, and resources."

Michael RichardsonMaster Coach, Generation Amazing

The People’s Game

The efforts to make the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ accessible to all, and the benefits of these efforts, are all about people.

People like Ghanimeh El-Taweel, an Affiliate Instructor at HBKU, a member of the SC’s Accessibility Forum, where people with disabilities across Qatar advise on disability needs and test physical and digital accessibility standards in stadiums. Her undiagnosed condition means she relies on a wheelchair or walker to move, and this has made her a passionate advocate for involving those with disabilities in everything that involves them, and ensuring they can live “more independently and with dignity”.

People like Rocco McGowan, a young member of QF’s Ability Friendly Program who has cerebral palsy, and who had never been to a football match in his life before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – but was able to go to five matches in 11 days during the tournament because of the accessibility of Qatar’s stadiums.

At the end of the day, it really is only football if it’s for all.

"I hope for an inclusive and diverse society that honors all individuals. I hope people will understand that accessibility is not about opening doors for me or pushing my wheelchair up a ramp."

Ghanimeh El-TaweelAffiliate Instructor, HBKU