World Cup 2022: How have travelling followers discovered Qatar match?

Followers have been making themselves heard on the metro
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Protection: Stay on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Stay, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport web site and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull protection particulars

At about 4.30am day-after-day in Doha, the Adhan echoes across the metropolis.

After listening to the Islamic name to prayer, worshippers make their option to their native mosque for Fajr (daybreak) prayers.

On the similar time, World Cup guests are climbing again into their beds having left the Fifa fan pageant – the place matches are proven on massive screens, then concert events staged – when it closes at 2am.

Qatar has a inhabitants of fewer than three million individuals and greater than 2,000 mosques, and a distinction in tradition has been dropped at the nation for the primary main worldwide soccer match to be held in a Muslim state within the Center East.

“It feels so special seeing the excitement and smiles of the fans,” fan pageant director Mead Al Emadi instructed BBC Sport. “We have welcomed people from all backgrounds and cultures to celebrate the best of football here.

“Seeing how a lot persons are having fun with themselves is the intangible legacy of the World Cup. As a Qatari lady who loves her soccer, engaged on this venture for the previous 10 years, then delivering it, is one thing that has been past my wildest desires.”

Prayer services ‘make it straightforward’

Faizal, his dad and brother
Faizal, his dad and brother have been to look at numerous England matches

Qatar is a conservative country but Sharia law is firmly entrenched in its constitution – homosexuality is illegal, and the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in public.

Surrounded by visitors from around the world, Qataris have stuck to their traditions and beliefs – men, women and children are seen at matches in their thobes and abayas (long robes) but with face paint and carrying scarves and flags.

Every stadium has designated prayer rooms, including the media centres, which are often packed when the time is approaching for the next of the five daily prayers, and the Khalifa International Stadium has a purpose-built mosque within its perimeter.

During England’s first training session in Doha, the Maghrib (sunset) Adhan could be heard; at one Brazil game at Stadium 974, the imam was seen wearing a Neymar shirt; and during the last group game at Al Janoub, a group used a Uruguay flag as a prayer mat.

“If the World Cup hadn’t been held right here, we most likely would not have come [to Qatar],” says Faizal, who has travelled from Yorkshire with his father and brother.

“The prayer services right here make it very straightforward for us, whether or not it is within the fan pageant, the souq or the stadium. It has been pretty to see vacationers from all around the world attending the mosques and having a real curiosity in Islam and the Arab tradition.

“Halal food is a must for us and would most likely be a struggle in other countries, so having access to halal food wherever we are is such a huge benefit to us.”

Three of the stadiums have additionally been geared up with sensory rooms,external-link giving followers with entry necessities the chance to expertise the sport away from massive crowds and loud music.

Stadium entry has largely been ‘easy’

Qatar has spent billions on infrastructure for the match, together with the stadiums, multi-lane motorways and a model new metro system.

Organisers have persistently claimed three migrant staff died on stadium websites, with 37 additional fatalities of stadium staff off-site as a consequence of non-work causes, and disputed a report alleging as many as 6,500 migrant staff have died.

Late final month, World Cup chief Hassan Al Thawadi instructed TalkTV an estimated 400-500 migrant staff died “as a result of work connected to the World Cup”.

However, Qatari officers shortly sought to make clear that determine, saying it was an estimate for fatalities throughout all business sectors, not simply infrastructure websites linked to the match.

With essentially the most distant of the stadiums simply 40 miles from the centre of Doha, there have been questions earlier than the World Cup about how the infrastructure would cope.

After an preliminary difficulty with the Fifa ticketing app on day two – inflicting points for tons of of followers going to the England and Wales video games – stadium entry has largely gone effectively.

With a few of the stadiums a stroll of 20 minutes or so from a metro station, tons of of workers have been available to level individuals in direction of the venues, then shout “metro, this way” whereas pointing with big foam fingers after the matches.

England fan Ben lives in Doha, and attended the primary recreation at Al Bayt – the stadium furthest outdoors the town.

“The logistics around the stadium were very smooth,” he mentioned. “There were loads of buses getting us to the ground from the metro and loads of buses to get us back.

“Moving into the bottom was easy, too. The queue was lengthy but it surely moved steadily and we have been inside in about 20 minutes.

“But no food or water was available in the concourse near us, which was a bit of a farce.”

Holly, an England fan who travelled for the group stage, mentioned: “What has really surprised is the ease to get to the stadiums and around the city. The metro has been brilliant and you hardly have to wait.”

One other England supporter mentioned followers may get to most stadiums fairly simply, however the ones additional away have been “quite difficult to navigate”.

The longer-term legacy of the match can be felt as soon as international followers have returned dwelling, although, and a Brazilian man who has lived in Qatar for eight years instructed us the development of the metro system could have a specific influence.

‘We really feel a lot safer right here’

Japan fan Take, his friend and BBC Sport reporters Emma and Shamoon
Take (second proper) travelled over to Qatar from Japan together with his buddy and are pictured right here with BBC Sport reporters Emma and Shamoon

Qatar has a low crime price, so being pickpocketed or mugged on the street is unlikely. However safety has been closely bumped up for the match, with loads of cops patrolling the metro and stadiums.

Japan supporter Take mentioned he felt “much safer here” than in Brazil eight years in the past.

“You had to check your bags everywhere you went,” he mentioned as he mirrored on his expertise in 2014. “Here, nothing.”

England fan Mike mentioned: “This is a World Cup like no other – it is so different, but it has been brilliant. I went to the fan festival and there were so many fans around enjoying the occasion.

“Clearly you do not have the ingesting, and there hasn’t been any hassle. All of it feels so secure.”

One other England fan, Holly, added: “There have been considerations about coming, however I’ve actually loved it. It’s a very totally different environment to what we’re used to at soccer in England.

“There being no drink and no large groups of fans has made it a bit of a carnival atmosphere. I haven’t seen lots of European fans about, but the South Americans have more than made up for that.”

Environment ‘nearly as good as ever’ or ‘disappointing’?

Within the build-up to the match, it was unclear what number of supporters would journey to Qatar and what the environment was going to be like at matches.

It’s estimated multiple million followers have made the journey, and only a few matches have appeared considerably undersubscribed. Certainly, Fifa mentioned attendance for the group stage had been a mean of 96% of stadium capability.external-link

The vast majority of video games have been stuffed with the color, ardour and noise you’ll anticipate at any main match, although there have been others which have prompted individuals to publish on social media they’ve felt “flat” or “artificial”.

The obvious distinction when put next with earlier tournaments has been a discount within the variety of European followers. Whereas the likes of Brazil and Argentina look to be represented in every single place you go, it’s uncommon to see a supporter sporting a European soccer shirt away from the stadiums.

A Germany fan we met earlier than their draw with South Korea mentioned the environment at European video games had been “disappointing” and there was an enormous distinction to the 2006 match in his homeland, the place fan parks had “100,000 in every day… here it is only 30,000 at the Corniche”.

Many supporters have been impressed by the environment within the stadiums, although, with Brazil fan Dulce – who has lived in Doha for 5 years – saying it was “as good as ever”.

“We have really loved it,” she mentioned. “I am told there are about 30,000 Brazil fans who have come from South America, and 38,000 from Argentina. This is usual.

“Simply take heed to the noise. You may be wherever on this planet and this noise is as loud and nearly as good. I’m excited by what is going to occur later within the World Cup.”

‘Abandoning LGBTQ+ supporters’

While we have been speaking to supporters who have chosen to travel to Qatar, there are, of course, many fans who have stayed away, with the decision to stage the World Cup in a country where homosexuality is illegal heavily criticised.

Organisers have always maintained all visitors would be welcome regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality, but they also said they expected their laws and culture to be respected, and many LGBTQ+ fans said they had not received the assurances over safety they wanted.

Days before the World Cup kicked off in Qatar, a fan group said football is “abandoning” its LGBT supporters.

A homosexual fan wrote in a diary for BBC Information that, although he has never felt concerned for his safety in Qatar, locals “do not think about homosexual followers as a part of the equation”.

A transgender Qatari woman also told BBC News: “I’m very afraid, however I simply need individuals to know that we do exist.”

BBC Information journalist Shaimaa Khalil wrote from Doha: “It does really feel like there are two parallel universes in relation to the controversies round this World Cup.

“For the advocates, the activists, the European teams and especially the seven captains who had intended to wear the One Love armband, this is an LGBT and human rights issue they want to remain vocal about.

“For hosts Qatar, and people spectators who’ve come right here or who’re watching across the Arab world – which has an unlimited Muslim majority – that is about faith, tradition, the norms of the area and principally about respect which they do not really feel they’re getting.”

‘Espresso is our beer’

Alcohol cannot be consumed in public in Qatar, while ordinarily it is only available to purchase at certain hotels or if you have a licence.

Just two days before the start of the tournament, Fifa changed its policy and decided that alcohol would not be sold at the eight stadiums.

The tournament has been mainly trouble-free, apart from an incident which appeared to show a fight between Argentina and Mexico supporters.

In Msheireb – the downtown area of Doha where there are a number of restaurants with al fresco dining – we spoke to a fan with a Scotland shirt on and his two friends enjoying a soft drink.

Asked how he has felt without alcohol being easily accessible, he said: “It hasn’t been an issue in any respect. In truth, it is made us really feel a bit higher.”

An Ecuador fan, who now lives in Saudi Arabia, said they drink alcohol in his home country and it is a “massive lifestyle”. He admitted it had been “very exhausting for a number of weeks” after he moved to adjust to not drinking alcohol and having parties, but he is used to how it is in Qatar and now has an alternative.

“Right here, espresso is like our beer,” he said. “Persons are lining up for ages for espresso.”

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