Home Social gathering Qatar will host a World Cup but not as we know it

Qatar will host a World Cup but not as we know it

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Soccer Football – General view inside Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, venue for the Qatar 2022 World Cup REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

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DOHA, April 4 (Reuters) – November’s World Cup in Qatar will be unlike any other final that has taken place before and the logistical challenges facing organizers from providing enough accommodation or to deal with unruly supporters, will only intensify.

The Gulf state will host the first World Cup in the Middle East, the first in a Muslim state, and no other tournament has ever been held in the northern hemisphere in winter.

Qatar, which is about the size of Jamaica, is also the smallest state to host football’s biggest event, with fans from all 32 competing nations ready to watch games in eight stadiums clustered around the only major city, Doha.

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On the positive side, this means that fans will be able to easily reach all venues, increasing the possibility of watching more than one match per day – unlike recent tournaments in Russia and Brazil where flights were often required to get to each site. town.

But it also means there will be real pressure on Qatar’s limited accommodation market, with organizers estimating that 1.2 million fans will visit the country over the 28 days of the tournament.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who inherited the decision to allow Qatar to host the tournament after taking over from his scandal-hit predecessor Sepp Blatter, initially considered the possibility that other countries in the region share reception duties.

But although that option was ultimately ruled out, Infantino is still keen to present the tournament as a chance for fans to experience the wider Arab world.

“There will be accommodation for anyone who wants to stay in Qatar, but maybe someone then wants to spend a day in Dubai or Abu Dubai or Muscat or Riyadh or Jeddah or whatever in the area and they will have the opportunity to go and visit other countries throughout their stay in this region,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“That’s certainly what we recommend as well, because I think one of the greatest experiences of this particular World Cup…is an opportunity for people to come to a country and a part of the world that they may not know,” he said. added.

It’s a laudable suggestion, but one that’s arguably only really an option for those with deep pockets, and it contrasts with efforts by Qatari organizers to make the World Cup accessible to fans on more modest budgets.

CEILING ROOM RATE

Organizers have capped the room rates that hotels can charge supporters, with three-star rates capped at around $120.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has pledged 130,000 rooms, including hotels and 60,000 rooms in apartments and villas, plus around 4,000 rooms on two cruise ships and the rest in fan villages .

Officials are also trying to ensure that fans, used to enjoying plenty of beer with their football, have alternatives to expensive hotel bars where a pint of beer can cost around $18.

Although alcohol is normally only available in such settings, special ‘fan zones’ will be set up around the country during the tournament so fans can watch matches and drink at more familiar prices.

“Alcohol prices will be capped in fan zones, similar to what was seen at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019 where a pint cost around five pounds ($6.55),” he said. a source familiar with the discussions.

The fan zones – and other venues – will have to deal with fans from all 32 countries, unlike most tournaments where cities only host two nations at a time before matches.

“I believe having so many nationalities and people coming together and mixing will be really beneficial, and will also move and elevate the World Cup into one big, big social gathering,” Infantino said.

This gathering could, however, require skilled security and police, given that football tournaments have had a history of clashes between rival supporters.

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(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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