The Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin in two years' time ©Qatar 2022

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says steady progress has been made in recent months on preparations for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the tournament set to kick off in two years' time.

Organisers report that the infrastructure planned for the event has reached 90 per cent completion.

This includes the completion of the Khalifa International, Al Janoub and Education City stadiums, while the Al Rayyan, Al Bayt and Al Thumama venues are claimed to be in the final stages of construction.

The main work at the remaining two stadiums - Ras Abu Aboud and Lusail - is set to be completed in 2021.

FIFA claims infrastructure is also being delivered at a rapid pace, including the state-of-the-art Doha Metro, which was used during the Club World Cup in 2019.

New roads and the expansion of Hamad International Airport are expected prior to the tournament. 

Infantino said progress has continued to be achieved despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"2020 has surely been a challenging year for the entire world, and football was no exception," Infantino said.

"Despite the difficulties, steady progress was made in the last few months, showing yet again Qatar’s strong and continued commitment - under the leadership of the Amir, whom I personally thank - to hosting an unforgettable FIFA World Cup in two years’ time, which will no doubt build a legacy long beyond 2022.

"Besides the very important labour reforms recently announced by the government, progress has also been made on stadium construction, along with the implementation of strict measures to protect workers’ health.

"During my short visit to Doha a few weeks ago, I witnessed first-hand how well preparations have advanced, and I am looking forward with confidence to Qatar 2022, for the transformative impact it is already having on the country and the region, for the unique experience it will provide fans from all over the world and, of course, for witnessing the best World Cup ever."

The match schedule for the World Cup was released in July.

The 32-team tournament is set to begin on November 21 and reach its climax on December 18.

From November 21 to December 2, there will be four group-stage games per day.

Khalifa International Stadium will host the third-place playoff on December 17, while the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium is set to stage the final a day later.

The tournament is traditionally played in June and July but was moved to November and December due to the high temperatures typically seen in Qatar during the summer.

All stadiums are within an hour of each other, with the most northern - Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor - only a 50-minute drive from the most southerly, Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah.

There will be three sets of rest days - each spanning two days each - coming on December 7 and 8, December 11 and 12 and December 15 and 16.

Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, claimed the tournament was important for the region.

"We are immensely proud of the progress we have made over the last ten years. Both tournament and national infrastructure projects are well advanced, with everything on track to be completed well ahead of the big kick-off," he said.

The Middle East has never before hosted the FIFA World Cup ©Getty Images
The Middle East has never before hosted the FIFA World Cup ©Getty Images

"Our legacy projects, meanwhile, are already having an impact on people’s lives in areas such as workers’ rights, education and entrepreneurship.

"This is an incredibly important FIFA World Cup - for Qatar, the region and the world. 

"Qatar 2022 will introduce billions of people to the Middle East and Arab world for the first time, and help to foster a greater understanding and break down stereotypes that people may have of our country and region.

"We’re very excited to welcome the world in 2022.”

The Middle East has never before hosted the FIFA World Cup and Asia has only done so once before, when Japan and South Korea co-hosted in 2002.

The Qatari national team has never before qualified for the World Cup, but will do so in 2022 by virtue of being hosts.

Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup has been hit by delays related to the coronavirus pandemic, which Infantino labelled as concerning in September.

Staging the tournament in Qatar has led to some criticism, with reports of human-rights abuses having repeatedly been associated with the construction of stadiums.

Qatar's oppressive laws concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have also come under scrutiny after it was awarded hosting rights o the tournament.