For fans wishing to travel to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, accommodation shortages, transport costs and tickets are emerging as major stumbling blocks. Some also do not plan to travel for ethical reasons.
A FIFA spokesperson told DW that Qatar is “committed to using all accommodation options available in the country to ensure that it offers fans a range of unique and innovative options during the The room inventory consists of traditional 2-5 star hotel rooms, temporarily docked cruise ships, known as “floating hotels”, serviced apartments and villas, and camps. in the desert.”
Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, estimates that 27,000 beds should be available, but there is still a long way to go.
“The Qatar Supreme Committee (SC) has said there will be up to 6,500 beds in the camps and an additional 2,500 in temporary cabins,” Evain told DW.
“But without any clarity on when that would be ready, so there was a strong feeling that we will try to do that, but we can’t really guarantee that at the moment.”
Beyond the concerns of sufficient space, there is the question of the cost of accommodation. The SC said earlier this year that prices would start from $80 a night. Evain thinks the cheapest option will be a single bed in a room or a shared room costing $100 a night, with $400 a night the cost of staying on a cruise ship.
“National team fans who have bought tickets through their national association are worried that there will be nothing left when it is their turn to book accommodation, as you need a match ticket to be able to book accommodation,” he said. explained Evan.
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The belief is that the majority of hotels and other accommodation options across the country that are currently booked will become available to ticket holders. However, at almost six months, the situation remains unclear. Indeed, Doha-based news network Al Jazeera reported in mid-April that Iran was preparing to host World Cup fans on Kish Island, a 40-minute flight or six hours by boat from Doha.
“There is a systemic problem that tournament organizers usually don’t care enough about the fans who travel, or in the case of Qatar, they have an offer that doesn’t match the real profile and budget of the people who travel. “, Evain added.
Organizers, however, paint a different picture.
“It has always been SC’s goal to have fair and reasonable prices for visiting fans,” he said in a statement in response to a query from DW. “We have worked closely with key stakeholders to ensure affordable pricing across all types of accommodation.”
How many trips are needed?
The FIFA spokesperson also told DW that Qatar is committed to making the tournament as environmentally friendly as possible by “measuring, mitigating and offsetting all GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. and advancing low-carbon solutions in Qatar and the region.”
In addition, the spokesperson pointed out that the compact nature of the tournament would “eliminate the long journeys between host cities typically required for other World Cups and thereby reduce associated carbon emissions”.
However, with accommodation options still unclear, Evain said groups of supporters who are still planning to travel to Qatar are seriously considering flying to and from Europe for every game. This would be devastating to the environment and result in additional costs for fans.
“At the time of the offer, Qatar Airways had committed, or at least the Qataris, to providing free flights to ticket holders. But a lot of the things promised in the offer never materialized,” Evain said. .
Concerns about ticket prices
As FIFA said, demand for tickets was high with more than 800,000 sold in the first phase, but Evain thinks that doesn’t indicate how many fans will actually be there.
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“There’s a difference between buying the tickets now for five, six, seven hundred dollars and actually traveling to Qatar…I don’t think the ticket sales numbers we’ve seen so far are necessarily a good indication. of how many people will end up going to Qatar,” Evain said.
“I think at least until the quarter-finals we will see small contingents of visiting supporters.”
The FIFA spokesperson said that for 55 of the tournament’s 64 matches, cheaper tickets will be available than for matches at the last World Cup in Russia. The spokesperson added that prices as affordable as QAR40 per ticket for residents of Qatar (about $10, 53% cheaper than in Russia) and QAR250 for international fans (about $70, 33% cheaper expensive than in Russia) were offered.
This may be true, but clarity on the ticket type remains elusive. There are four categories of tickets, with Category 1 being the most expensive and Category 4 reserved exclusively for Qatari residents.
“Category 4 is cheaper for the group stage and round of 16, and it’s significantly cheaper, that’s true,” Evain said. “But it is impossible for 54% of matches to be cheaper when Category 3 tickets are cheaper than in Russia, but only for group stage matches.”
“The quarter-finals, semi-finals, third-fourth playoffs and the final – all tickets are higher and some are significantly higher,” Evain said. “Overall, it’s an increase.
For fans compiling a list of pros and cons of a trip to Qatar for the World Cup, the list of cons keeps growing. From ethical concerns to the cost of accommodation, travel and tickets, there are plenty of reasons to wonder if this will truly be a World Cup with fans from around the world coming together. – as the event is always meant to be.
Edited by Chuck Penfold.