'Instantly recognizable'

World Cup stadium raises eyebrows, draws laughs for looking like a giant vagina

On the website of the forthcoming Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, Aecom, the firm behind it, says the arena’s “distinctive form … will be instantly recognizable.”

Well, yes … and no.

People who see photos of the structure, as it nears completion, are instantly recognizing the stadium as a giant vagina in the desert — not its intended design. Al Wakrah will be used for the 2022 World Cup tournament being held there and will hold some 40,000 spectators. It was designed by the late Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British legend in the world of architecture who died unexpectedly at the age of 65 in 2016.

As new photos and videos showing the stadium’s progress have been released, many observers have drawn a comparison to the arena’s uncanny resemblance to the female genitalia, and it’s even been nicknamed “the vagina stadium.”

However, the idea that Al Wakrah looks like a vagina is not a new concept. In fact, when Hadid released the designs in 2013, they were almost instantly mocked for looking like a vagina. “Any discerning human will be quick to recognize that the building looks exactly like an enormous vagina,” Jezebel declared. “I’m no expert, but I think those are labia,” Anne Breslaw, a relationships expert, said in a Q&A with Esquire.

Hadid had based her design for the stadium on the shape of a traditional Qatari dhow boat, and amid the first round of mockery five years ago, she was none too pleased with how people interpreted her work

“It’s really embarrassing that they come up with nonsense like this,” Hadid told TIME magazine in an interview at the time. “What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina? That’s ridiculous.”

She also smelled a whiff of sexism at play as well. “Honestly, if a guy had done this project,” Hadid said, “critics would not be making such lewd comparisons.”

Yes, fair enough. But it’s still hard to unsee the stadium’s resemblance to a vagina after all of the commotion about it. And for anyone who may be lucky enough to snag tickets to games at Al Wakrah, this might be the perfect wardrobe choice to wear that day.


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