Qatar faces World Cup questions as 200-day countdown nears | Soccer News

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DOHA: Migrant workers work through the night near the World Cup clock which will begin counting down 200 days to Thursday’s kick-off as hosts Qatar face mounting questions over costs and conditions for fans.
Eight gleaming, air-conditioned stadiums are ready for the start of the tournament on November 21, but every night the army of South Asian workers who underpin Qatar’s energy-rich economy swarm the unfinished roads and construction sites around of Doha.
Dozens of gigantic cranes tower over the capital’s skyscrapers as organizers juggle the dilemma of accommodating an estimated 1.4million fans eager for entertainment and booze in the small, conservative Islamic state.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has promised the “best” World Cup ever and a FIFA spokesperson told AFP the world body was “impressed” with the FIFA World Cup schedule. infrastructure of Qatar.
But many fans are worried about the cost of travel and accommodation for the World Cup in Qatar, the first in an Arab country.
Qatar has faced frequent questions about human rights, including for the tens of thousands of migrant workers who built infrastructure around the World Cup. Qatar claims to have cracked down on abusive practices and introduced reforms, including a minimum wage.
But Ronan Evain, head of Football Supporters Europe, a lobby group, said transport and beds were the biggest concerns for supporters.
“It’s the most complicated World Cup of the modern era for logistics,” he told AFP. “Fans are seeing prices going up and not knowing when it will stop.”
With prices skyrocketing after Covid, round-trip Madrid-Doha plane tickets in November have already reached over $1,680, almost three times the cost in 2021.
Many fans are still unsure if they have match tickets – which are on average a third more expensive than in 2018 – and they cannot book accommodation on the official website without a seat number.
Qatar says there will be 130,000 rooms in hotels, apartments, cruise ships and desert camps. He promised shared rooms for as low as $85 a night.
Ambassadors from many of the 32 competing countries have told AFP they are concerned about the lack of information on issues ranging from alcohol to the treatment of gay people in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and the alcohol is reserved mainly for foreign non-Muslims.
“There is no problem with concrete and steel,” said an ambassador, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But they don’t tell us enough how everything will be controlled. There are meetings but no details.”
“Getting information from the organizing committee is a nightmare,” said Fabien Bonnel, spokesperson for Irresistibles Français, France’s largest supporters association. He predicted fewer French supporters than in previous tournaments.
Before other World Cups there was often talk of stadiums not being ready, but 2022 is different, said Danyel Reiche, a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and author of “Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Politics , controversy, change”.
“There are many indicators that it will be a great World Cup,” Reiche said.
“The challenge here is to meet the needs of Western fans who are used to consuming alcohol while watching matches while respecting the local culture.
“Pragmatic compromises must be found to respect both sides.”
FIFA and Qatar organizers the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy have sought to reassure fans about accommodation, rights and alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is likely to be sold in fan zones and special areas near stadiums at a subsidized price of around $6.25 a beer, as was the case during the 2019 Club World Cup and last year’s Formula 1 race in Qatar, organizer sources said.
“Many countries have restrictions on the public consumption of alcohol. Qatar is no different and simply asks fans to respect the country’s conservative culture,” a spokesperson for the Supreme Committee said.
Drunkenness will be dealt with “in a sensible and sensitive manner”.
FIFA said it underlined its “unequivocal” position on human and gay rights in Qatar.
FIFA had insisted that law enforcement around the World Cup be ‘non-discriminatory, strictly necessary and proportionate’, including allowing lesbian-gay-transgender symbols and colors indoors and outdoors stadiums, the spokesman said.
“Rainbow and other gender identity colors on flags are permitted in all FIFA competitions and have been displayed at previous FIFA tournaments in Qatar.
“FIFA is confident that all necessary measures will be in place to ensure LGBTIQ+ fans and allies can enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe environment, like everyone else.”



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