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New features for differently-abled fans stun many in Qatar

Published : 03 Dec 2022 09:52 PM

DOHA, Qatar: Amid its many spectacular state of the art new displays and arrangements for the 2022 FIFA World Cup being held in Qatar, sensory rooms for the spectators is one such new addition that attracts many.

Working with local stakeholders, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), FIFA and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC has set up sensory rooms for fans with access requirements at three Qatar 2022 stadiums - Al Bayt, Lusail and Education City. 

The spaces allow fans to watch matches in a quieter space, equipped with assistive technology and managed by expert staff. This edition of the FIFA World Cup has included the largest deployment of sensory rooms at a mega sporting event in history.

The creation of sensory spaces demonstrates Qatar's commitment to hosting a tournament accessible to everyone. The scientist hopes that beyond the World Cup, these sensory rooms will set a new standard and that similar spaces will be set up in other venues, such as malls, cultural spaces, hospitals, and more importantly, schools.

In addition to sensory rooms, Qatar 2022 event also features a number technologies to help disabled fans. 

Audio descriptive commentary is one such new technology introduced at the Qatar World Cup event. 

It provides blind and partially sighted fans with a detailed account of what is happening in the stadium, including where the ball is on the pitch, players’ facial expressions and what is happening in the stands. 

After arriving at the game, fans simply need to download the FIFA Interpreting app (Apple/Google Play) on their personal devices and use their own headphones to listen to the dedicated commentary. The service is also available in English and can be accessed whether you are in the stadium or at home.  

“I never thought I’d be able to support my team from the stands, especially at a World Cup. When I heard that Qatar is offering quiet spaces which I can retreat to if everything becomes too much, I immediately booked my tickets,” said Chahboub, who flew to Qatar from Budapest with his lifelong friend, Badre Bedrkich.

For Adel Al Awad, bringing his 13-year-old brother, Ibrahim, to a FIFA World Cup match is an important experience.

“I am delighted to see Ibrahim being given the opportunity to attend football matches. He loves the game, and is always excited when we go to the stadium. Although he loves the sights and sounds of being in the stands, they can sometimes be a bit too much for him. As a child with Autism, his senses can be overloaded, but these sensory rooms make the experience very manageable,” said Al Awad.

"More importantly, these types of facilities give Ibrahim the opportunity to experience large events and gain the confidence to be better integrated in social settings," he added.