World Cup 2022 diary: brave Iran fans shame Fifa at Qatar’s big show

World Cup 2022 diary: brave Iran fans shame Fifa at Qatar’s big show

27-Nov-2022 07:30:14 | The Guardian

Emotionally charged scenes in the stands, a seismic shock on the pitch and £11.50 for a can of Budweiser far away from it

No more sleeps. And not an overwhelming sense of a country waking up with World Cup fever. The assignment is to reflect what it is like in Doha as Qatar opens the first World Cup to be staged in the Middle East with a game against Ecuador. On a two-hour walk around the city before ending up at Souq Waqif, a traditional magnet for locals and tourists, the only signs of World Cup life are an organised gathering for Qataris (100 maximum) outside Millennium Plaza, a few cars driving past waving both Qatar and Palestine flags, and two men sat outside a refrigerator repair shop with a TV propped up on a chair. Souq Waqif is livelier, although more people are gathered around a Korean technology stand than looking for the game. There is dangerous overcrowding at the Fan Festival, however, where too many people descend on the 40,000-capacity venue and are kept in a holding area for almost an hour before being herded away. An inevitable consequence, you might say, of hosting a World Cup in and around one city that offers few options for football fans.

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