Parkite Kris Severson working at FIFA Soccer World Cup in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar — The first match of the FIFA 2022 World Cup is still three weeks away. However, Park City resident Kris Severson has been preparing the event for two weeks. He’s assuming the familiar work title of venue producer while in a familiar workplace, Qatar.

This time, the venue is a unique 44,000-seat soccer stadium named 974. The stadium was built out of 974 shipping containers and represents country code 974. After the World Cup, it will be torn down, shipped to a developing country, and rebuilt as a project to develop underserved football countries, like one of the prospective receiving countries, Uruguay. “It’s in a shipping yard right on the water, and thus the design is industrial and cool,” Severson said.

His official title is Stadium 974 Infotainment Manager. “At first, they were rotating five venue producers among venues but decided each venue needed their own [Infotainment Manager], so I got the job when they expanded the role to eight. Eight Stadiums, eight Infotainment Managers,” he said.

Severson’s a big soccer fan and former player, but he’s an even bigger skiing fan. A former athlete on the U.S. Ski Jumping Team, he has worked for eight Winter and Summer Olympics as a venue producer, starting in Salt Lake in 2002. Severson’s CV also includes global winter and summer Red Bull events. “I recall watching the FIFA 1990 World Cup in Italy. I would get up with friends and watch early matches at 4:00 a.m.”

“To so many, the World Cup is a more significant, globally important sporting event than the Olympics. While both the Olympics and the World Cup have an underlying message of unity through sport, World Cup has a much more competitive feel with long standing international rivalries. It makes the matches more intense for both athletes and fan base.”

He would know since this is his second FIFA World Cup Games. In 2018, he worked as a venue producer in Sochi, Russia. He’s also worked in Qatar a couple of times, in 2006 for Asian Games and 2011 for Arab Games. He doesn’t speak the language but has learned a few key sports, crowd, and television words and phrases. He said, “I usually like to learn the phrase, ‘Two beers and my friend will pay,” in every language, but that is not relevant or socially acceptable here.”

The weather’s very warm and humid, he explains, high 80s-90s, “but they tell me in two weeks it will cool down. They have even given me a date. They say, ‘it’s like a light switch.'”

Between Groups A – H, Team USA has double-blind drawn into group B with England, Iran, and Whales. Severson’s venue is only for the group stages and one round of the Round of 16. His last match is Dec 5, seven total matches.

Photo: courtesy of Kris Severson
Photo: courtesy of Kris Severson

Kris Severson spectating the USA’s Round of 16 Game on a rare day off.

Kris Severson at the World Cup.

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