Qatar on Tuesday began work on the first stadium for the 2022 World Cup as the debate rages over whether the tournament should take place amid soaring summer temperatures.
Evacuation work to lay the foundations got underway with the construction of the Al-Wakrah stadium, 15km south of Doha, to begin in September, organisers said.
The 40,000-seater stadium is expected to be completed four years before the tournament begins in 2018.
The energy-rich emirate has planned to build 12 stadiums for the World Cup, although FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke believes “eight is the right number”.
World football’s governing body imposes a minimum of eight stadiums for host countries with at least one 80,000-seater to host the final.
FIFA took the decision to award Qatar the World Cup in December 2010.
Since then Qatar has been dogged by controversies over the validity of the vote, the treatment of foreign workers employed on infrastructure projects, as well as when in 2022 the tournament should be played.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said last week it was a mistake to choose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup in the summertime, adding that it must be held in the winter instead.
Qatar also announced last week it will abolish its controversial sponsorship system for foreign workers, whose treatment has stirred mounting international criticism.
Organisers said that construction company HBK have given their commitment to respect the welfare of workers “in accordance with the labour law of Qatar and international best practices that protect workers’ rights”.