As fans trickle into Qatar, they’re understandably in holiday mode as they look forward to the prospect of a desert World Cup.
Hosts Qatar’s top scorer Almoez Ali and fellow striker Akram Afif lead the line against Ecuador in Sunday’s World Cup opener at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt stadium.
Daniel Oordt from Holland, clad in orange, told Reuters there was a feeling of “constant pressure around you not to say the wrong thing or make the wrong move”.
“It’s not a fun atmosphere to have at a World Cup.”
Argentina fan Julio Cesar though said he expected a great atmosphere. “We’ll drink before the match,” he added, after alcohol sales at stadiums were banned.
Visitors sipped beer at the FIFA Fan Festival in central Doha. Outside the city’s edges, hundreds of workers gathered in a sports arena in an industrial zone, without alcohol. They can watch matches there, priced out of the stadiums many toiled to build along with other infrastructure for the event.
“Of course I didn’t buy a ticket. They’re expensive and I should use that money for other things – like sending it back home to my family,” Ghanaian national Kasim, a security guard who has worked in Qatar for four years, told Reuters.
Gas exporter Qatar is the smallest nation to host soccer’s biggest global event. Crowd control will be key with some 1.2 million visitors expected – more than a third of its population.
Workers were putting final touches to Doha’s landscape, including draping a purple tarpaulin over an unfinished building near the stadium where the final will be held. At Lagoona Mall, residents were going about their business. “I came now because I don’t know how bad the traffic will be later this week,” said Egyptian woman Esraa, grocery shopping.
The biggest fan party has started in Qatar, take a look:
- FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 SCHEDULE
- COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE FIFA WORLD CUP 2022
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