FIFA president Gianni Infantino has claimed the World Cup has been “the best ever.”
The Group stages were full of final day drama and Infantino says “record breaking” TV figures prove the popularity of the tournament so far.
Infantino said: “I have seen all the matches, indeed, and put very simply and very clearly, this has been the best group stage of a World Cup ever. So it’s very promising for the remainder of the World Cup. But the matches have been of great, great quality in beautiful stadiums - we knew that already. However, as well, the public who was there was incredible.
“Over 51,000 on average. Record-breaking figures on TV - we already had over two billion viewers, which is really incredible.
“Two and a half million people in the streets of Doha and a few hundred thousand every day in the stadiums, all together, cheering together, supporting their teams, fantastic atmosphere, great goals, incredible excitement, surprises, small teams beating big teams.
“Well, there are no more small teams and no more big teams. The level is very, very equal. For the first time as well, national teams from all continents going to the knock-out phase, for the first time in history. This shows that football is really becoming truly global.”
The Qatar World Cup has been the most controversial in history but Infantino believes it can be remembered as a “fantastic success.”
Infantino added: “We hope that the World Cup continues and concludes as it has started - a fantastic success. I am sure that we will reach the five billion viewers around the world.
“When it comes to stadium attendances, the stadiums are sold-out, full practically at every match. The fan festivals, the different fan zones, are also very crowded with people celebrating and enjoying [themselves].
“And at the end, we simply want to give some joy and some smiles to people all over the world. That’s what football is about, that’s what the World Cup is about, and that’s what should also happen from now until the end.
“I’m sure we will see a fantastic conclusion of this World Cup. And I’m definitely looking very much forward to that, and I’m sure that all the people around the world who are football fans, who love football, who are interested in this World Cup, look forward to the coming games as well.”