World Cup 2022: Qatar hosts – what can England and Wales fans expect in the Middle East?


Qatar will host the 22nd edition of the World Cup

Qatar is set to host the first World Cup in the Middle East in the tournament’s 92-year history and the first in the Northern Hemisphere winter.

All three million available tickets have been sold and the country is expecting 1.2 million visitors for the tournament, which will be held from November 20 to December 18.

Qatar is the smallest host nation in World Cup history, with a population of around three million, roughly half the size of Wales.

It will be a compact event with eight stadiums approximately an hour’s drive away and a maximum of 43 kilometers, with 110 meter trains and 4,000 buses to transport fans.

The World Cup will be different in many ways, so what can fans expect?

How many fans will go?

About 3,000 to 4,000 England fans will flock to Qatar for the group stages, and numbers will increase if Gareth Southgate’s side reach the knockout stages.

Around 2,000 to 3,000 followers will follow wales, Who are playing their first World Cup since 1958.

Ashley Brown, head of supporter engagement at the Football Supporters’ Association, says the “big unknown” is the number of British expats, with “20,000 British passport holders in Qatar and probably over 100,000 in the region”.

Brown says England fans are not at the cost of traveling to previous tournaments, while the timing of the World Cup – outside the usual summer school holidays – will “impact on the ability of families to attend”.

“For a lot of people, Qatar is not an exciting place to go, it’s not a regular holiday destination, the lack of availability of alcohol, the cost to get there, the cost once you’re there, it puts a lot of people off,” added Brown. “The cost of living absolutely plays into that.”

Paul Corkrey, of the Cymru Football Supporters’ Association, added: “We took 50,000 to Euro 2016 in France, so the response has been muted, mainly because of the location and the time it’s being played.”

Tournament organizer Fifa has published a top 10 list of ticket sales by country of buyers, with Qatar at the top and England fourth.

It did not release the breakdown of the data by country, or how many were allocated to sponsors or local residents.

Top World Cup ticket sales by country of buyer

Where are the fans left and how much will it cost?

Apartments, hotel rooms, wilderness campsites, villas, fan villages and even cabins on moored cruise ships have become available.

But some fans have complained that accommodation options are limited and expensive.

Organizers offer 30,000 additional rooms, which they say is the equivalent of one million nights, and will help provide a total of 130,000 rooms, including 9,000 beds in fan villages – large tents and metal cabins – 60,000 rooms in apartments and villas, 50,000 in hotels. and 4,000 rooms on two cruise ships, which will remain docked for the tournament.

However, it is not clear whether this will be enough to meet the demand.

So-called fan villages built in the desert outside Doha have attracted media attention and are being sold as a budget option. They are priced at $207 (£184) per night for two people.

They explained that the accommodation in the fan village looks like a shipping container
They explained that the accommodation in the fan village looks like a shipping container
Amenities in each cabin include tea and coffee making facilities, two bottles of water per day, a fridge, bed linen and bathroom towels.
Amenities in each cabin include tea and coffee making facilities, two bottles of water per day, a fridge, bed linen and bathroom towels.

Qatar’s official website says that rooms on the MSC Poesia cruise ship cost from $179 (£160) per night, but on many dates, the price of a room with a double bed is around $450 (£404) per night.

Brown said many fans had been “priced out”, with a trip including three teams’ matches in England or Wales taking into account travel, accommodation and tickets, a conservative estimate would cost fans £3,000. Following the two sides in the latter stages of the tournament “would easily be £5,000”, added Brown.

The cheapest group stage tickets for non-Qatari residents were around £60, with prices for the final starting at £500.

A five-a-side event for supporters of the 32 competing nations will mirror the tournament. The Fan Cup will be played over four days during the competition.

Katara Towers
The 40-storey Katara Towers luxury hotel project in Lusail is part of Qatar’s construction works.

Travel tips for followers

Fans have been told they must have a Hayya Card (a fan ID that will also guarantee free public transport) to enter Qatar, and arrange accommodation for those planning to stay overnight.

Rules requiring visitors to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 result and register with the country’s Ehteraz contract tracking app look ready to throw away for the World Cup, but fans are advised to check in advance.

Produced by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office gave advice to followers,external link which include the following warnings:

  • There can be serious penalties for doing something that is not a crime in the UK. Alcohol availability and related laws will be different from previous tournaments.
  • Stay away from drugs. Qatar takes a zero tolerance approach and visitors can expect severe punishment for possessing residual amounts. Penalties can include lengthy custodial sentences.

World Cup operations director Colin Smith said: “Like any country, all we ask is that people respect Qatar’s cultural norms.”

The stadium has a code of conduct for spectators attending games, which prohibits flags or banners taller than two meters to 1.5 meters and any material of a “political, offensive and/or discriminatory nature”.

UK police stationed in Qatar at the World Cup will act as “cultural interpreters” between fans and local law enforcement to avoid “unfortunate misunderstandings” where British football “fan culture” may need to be “moderated” to respect conservative local values. and traditions.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the national head of football policing, said British police were not there to tell fans how to behave, but to stand between supporters and Qatari law enforcement, which includes 3,000 Turkish riot police.

Alicia Kearns, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also encouraged fans to leave their personal phones at home and take their “burner” (disposable) phones to Qatar instead. This comes amid fears that apps you need to download in Qatar are being used to hack people’s phones.

However, Chief Constable Roberts and the FSA’s Brown played down these concerns and advised fans to stick to the advice of the official government’s overseas commonwealth office.

What about the dress code?

Doha, Qatar
Traditional dress in Qatar is thobes for men and abayas for women

People from 90 different countries live and work in Qatar with locals dressed in traditional thobes and abayas, and organizers say you’re just as likely to see someone in a sari as in a football shirt or hijab.

Tourists have been told they are free to wear comfortable clothing as long as it is modest and culturally respectful.

Conservative dress is expected in some places, such as government buildings, national museums and Doha’s famous Souq Waqif market. If someone wears shorts or beachwear in such places, chances are they will be asked to cover up.

What about LGBT and human rights?

Homosexuals are illegal in Qatar and the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was criticized For suggesting that LGBT football fans going to the World Cup should show “some flexibility and compromise”.

Public displays of affection can be considered offensive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intent.

While Brown said he expected fans from England and Wales to be “very safe” in Qatar due to generally very low levels of crime, he admitted that LGBT fans were not “safe enough” to travel.

“It’s very sad,” Brown said. “The pride of the Three Lions representing that community as traveling England fans – I don’t think anyone is going to leave.

“They don’t feel safe, they don’t feel comfortable and they don’t feel calm and that’s incredibly disappointing for FIFA to put a tournament in a country that won’t welcome these people.

“Qatar is keen for this to go well. It’s on the world stage, they want to be seen as a good country, so I think things would be fine, but it has to be their choice.”

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has promised the best World Cup ever and said: “Everyone will be welcome at the tournament, regardless of origin, religion, background, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.”

Unmarried friends or couples are not limited to staying in the same room.

FIFA has said it will cancel the 2022 World Cup contracts of any hotel in Qatar that does not allow same-sex couples to stay.

Will fans be able to drink alcohol?

Cardholders will have the option buy alcohol on the perimeter of the stadium before and after the games.

But during the match and during the break, non-alcoholic Budweiser Zero – provided by one of the sponsors of the tournament – will be the only beer available for sale.

Alcohol is only available in Qatar to visitors in licensed hotel restaurants and bars, with additional availability expected in select fan areas during the tournament.

It is believed that some Qatari hotels will not show World Cup matches because the broadcast subscriptions cost too much.

Pints ​​of beer in Doha are priced between £12 and £15, even by the World Cup organizers is said to be working on happy hour dealsexternal link which would cut prices in half at certain times.

It will show games for fans at the 40,000-capacity Al Bidda Park on a giant screen. It has an alcohol license from 18:30 to 01:00 local time.

The Arcadia music festival is open from 10am to 5am, serves alcohol and will feature a 50-tonne fire spider that was used at Glastonbury, but tickets cost more than £75 a day.

Non-residents are not allowed to buy alcohol in shops. The legal age in Qatar is 21 and it is a crime to drink alcohol or be drunk in a public place.

“What will be missed is the usual vibrancy on the street and the interaction with the many bars tucked away in the hotels,” Brown said.

“Thirty-two fan groups all in one place watching games. No one knows what that’s going to look like, it’s never been done before. I’m sure there will be some wonderful pictures of the fans enjoying themselves together, but there might be some challenges as well.”

The head of the World Cup, Nasser Al Khater, has stated that drunken fans will be sent there special cleaning areas.external link

What about day trips?

The accommodation situation means some supporters have chosen to fly in and out for matches elsewhere.

Qatar Airways has canceled flights to 18 destinations at Hamad International Airport to make room for airlines transporting fans, and expects around 500 shuttle flights a day.

The capacity of the Abu Samra border crossing to and from Saudi Arabia has doubled to 4,000 passengers per hour.

Germany’s official fan club has booked 300 places in a four-star hotel in Dubai, with Brown expecting a “reasonable number” of travel from places including Dubai.