139 days before the World Cup, Qatar… isn’t quite done yet

FIFA organized a two-day major seminar in Doha, Qatar to allow selection members to understand the final details before the start of the 2022 World Cup. Organization of this World Cup, five months before the deadline. And right now, Doha isn’t quite finished.

When you arrive near Al-Janoub Stadium, one of the eight stadiums used for the 2022 World Cup, the mood is not yet festive. Backhoe loaders, trucks and especially roads are far from finished: Doha is still under construction. The competition stadiums have been ready for several months. But it’s true that since RMC Sport’s last visit to the capital (in March 2022) the ancillary works are still (very) important. The condition of the corniche coming from the airport has improved, but the works on the secondary axes or on private buildings, for example, are still very present.

To see this, it is enough to gain height on a hotel roof in Doha to realize that the cranes are still numerous. These images of works challenged several delegations present at a FIFA seminar in Qatar. “We drove from the airport to the hotel, everything is under construction, it’s quite impressive… We have a few questions, but we’ll see in November,” reveals one member of an African selection. For its part, the organization wants to calm things down and prefers to show journalists the brand new cases.

Workers at work… in the middle of the night

Nasser Al-Khater, Director of the FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee, addressed the podium during the ‘Team Workshop’ organized by FIFA. “I know that many of you who are out on the streets see that there is still a lot to be done,” the head of the organization told representatives of the selection. But we promised everything would be on time and ready. The final details will be known long before the tournament. I am happy to report that all of our stadiums and training sites are ready and have been tested ahead of the big kick-off with various events. Meanwhile, the finishing touches are being put on our national infrastructure and the incredible experience Qatar will offer fans around the world.”

With the current high temperatures of 43 to 46 degrees in Doha, most workers do not work during the day. Some are still identifiable in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is beating down and the air is practically unbreathable. Bottle of water in hand and yellow helmet on head, these are the little hands of this World Cup that will allow Qatar to deliver the work on time. A situation that risks further irritating NGOs fighting for the rights of migrant workers. During this very hot period they start their shifts in the late afternoon and very often work at night with lights connected to generators. Walking the streets of the capital at night, you can see many small lamps on the side of the road.

Working in Qatar, July 2022
Work in Qatar, July 2022 © RMC Sport

The country closed to non-ticket holders during the 2022 World Cup

It is a special World Cup that awaits the soccer planet. And before you come to Qatar for the next World Cup, you need to be sure that you have a valid ticket for a game. The small emirate will close its borders during the competition period. For admission you need a ticket or an accreditation from the organizer. Persons without a ticket cannot enter the territory of Qatar.

If you are a family and want to enjoy this World Cup, the whole family must have tickets for at least one game. If a member of this family does not have a ticket, access to the area will be prohibited. The organization confirmed this information to RMC Sport. Technically, with the 1.2 million fans expected during the competition, each will have a ticket validated by airport authorities. The tickets are all linked to the buyers’ information with their hotel and fan ID. A very different maneuver than the World Championships in Russia or even in Brazil. This implementation of a follow-up allows the organizers, above all, to control the number of people present on the territory at the time of the event. In the event of your team’s elimination, you have the right to remain on Qatari soil.

It’s not all over on the hotel side yet. Of the 130,000 rooms promised by the organization, only 100,000 were completed. Qatar also wants to rely on the power of these neighbors at this 2022 World Cup to help it in the hotel industry. Just over 150 daily round-trip flights from countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman are planned to relieve Qatar. It remains to be seen whether football fans will be willing to stay there in a World Cup atmosphere for just a few days before heading to another destination. A real habit change.

The evacuated sexual relations controversy

The authorities keep repeating this sentence: “In November, come as you are”. A few weeks ago, the Daily Star published an article on the repression of sexual relations in Qatar for unmarried couples. In just a few hours, this controversy had assumed significant proportions at international level. In Doha, the issue was quickly cleared by the Supreme Committee and FIFA.

Asked about this by RMC, most residents of the capital have the same reaction, whipping out their phones to show the dating apps available in the country. She sees it as a symbol of the opening up of the country and the progressive change in mentality in this emirate, which is 90% foreign. In reality, this law exists, but it is applied very rarely and controls are practically non-existent. French expatriates are the first to witness this. “We’re not going to come and open your room and lift the covers,” confides a receptionist at a Doha hotel. For its part, FIFA assures that Qatar will respect “the privacy” of the fans. The country that wants to ride the World Cup wave to become a tourist destination in the Middle East knows that the mistake is forbidden during this 2022 World Cup.

Nicolas Pelletier in Doha

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