Gianni Infantino (centre) wants Qatar to host a better World Cup than Russia. Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/Reuters

DOHA – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has warned Qatar that the first World Cup in the Middle East - which begins in four years on November 21 - has to be better than Russia.

"The Russian World Cup was the best ever, and the World Cup in 2022 has to be even better," said Infantino in a joint statement issued with Qatar's tournament organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

The statement reveals that Qatar is spending $6.5 billion on building or refurbishing eight stadiums for the tournament.

Qatar has said it is spending around $500 million a week on preparations for the World Cup.

Doha's Al Thumama stadium, designed by a Qatari architect in the shape of a traditional knitted
Doha's Al Thumama stadium, designed by a Qatari architect in the shape of a traditional knitted "gahfiya" Arabian cap. Photo: Reuters

The Gulf state is set to host the first tournament in November and December, after FIFA agreed to move the tournament amid concerns over the desert country's fierce summer heat, where temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

"It will be a momentous occasion for the teams participating, the fans watching, and for the whole Arab world, which is eagerly anticipating hosting the showpiece event of the most popular sport in the world for the first time ever," said Hassan al-Thawadi, head of the Supreme Committee.

FIFA has floated the idea of 48 teams at the 2022 World Cup, but is likely to be contested by 32 sides only.

Agence France-Presse (AFP)