“You can be the heart, the soul and the smile of the World Cup.”
That was the message delivered by FIFA President Gianni Infantino as he helped launch the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Volunteer Programme. A diverse audience spanning 82 nationalities attended a ceremony in Doha on Monday 21 March, to launch the campaign to sign-up 20,000 volunteers.
With exactly eight months to go until the opening game, the application process is now open for volunteer candidates hoping to be at the heart of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. FIFA President Gianni Infantino was joined by H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, special guests, including H.E. Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani, H.E. Salah Bin Ghanem Al Ali, Minister of Sports and Youth, and FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
FIFA Legend and Qatar Legacy Ambassador Tim Cahill, Qatari entrepreneur and philanthropist Ghanim al Muftah, and Qatari sports journalist Mohammed Saadon Al Kuwari also joined the 3,500 potential volunteers at a glittering ceremony in the Katara Amphitheatre in Doha. “You are what makes it special,” Cahill said. “The volunteers are like the glue (to making the tournament work). There are so many important factors. You have the teams, you have the players, you have the highs, the lows. But the volunteers play a real, intricate part in helping people enjoy the experience.” Before the speeches, spine-tingling footage was beamed down from a huge screen in the stunning venue, showing the eight stadiums that will be used in the tournament. Volunteers from Algeria, Brazil and Kenya took to the stage, while Mexico and USA were represented by Álvaro Pastor, who first volunteered in 1986, and John Gallagher, who both joined via video link. People from around the world – there were 82 nationalities – were at the ceremony. France legend Marcel Desailly delivered his message via the big screen, urging those present to: “Make it the best World Cup the world has ever seen.” Recorded messages from fellow World Champion Cafu, along with Nadia Nadim and Javier Mascherano, were also shown.
For anyone thinking about applying for one of the 20,000 volunteer posts, FIFA President Gianni Infantino had this to say: “Volunteers are the heart and soul of the FIFA World Cup. You are the first face, the first smile that any visitor to Qatar will find when they arrive. Thanks to you, we can show the entire world that Qatar, the Gulf region and the whole Arab world is welcoming the planet for an incredible experience here in November and December this year. The world will unite in Qatar and celebrate a peaceful, wonderful and unforgettable event.” For H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi the diversity he saw represented in the audience made this moment even more important: “At a time of upheaval and uncertainty across many parts of our interconnected world, you will also help to bridge the gap in understanding between east and west, north and south. You will do this simply by offering the world a little hope and friendship.” He added: “I want to thank you personally for what will be an incredible contribution to our tournament, which is in effect your tournament. You will help to tell a wonderful story.”
The ceremony finished as it started and the goosebumps returned as volunteer Habeeb Khalfan took to the stage with a football. The lights dimmed, the music started, and after a quick kickabout, the words ‘thank you’ were written on the ball. Dancers in Qatari colours and a backdrop of flashing lights produced an entertaining and energetic finale as the curtain came down on the launch and an open invite was sent to the world.
Candidates must be 18 or over and able to speak English. Knowledge of Arabic is considered an asset. Candidates must be willing to commit to a minimum of ten full days during the tournament, which runs from 21 November until 18 December with all applications to be registered via volunteer.FIFA.com.