There are always challenges with any mega-event and this month the 2022 FIFA World Cup is in Qatar, a country founded 51 years ago with a total population of 2.8 million people. So, with that perspective, here are some observations.
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Inside the stadiums
Concessions are limited to a few items if you want to eat late at 10pm (2pm ET in the US). For those games, many ATMs only sell chips and drinks. In other games, fans can get a grilled cheese or hot dog, chicken shwarma (a popular Middle Eastern dish consisting of thinly sliced meat stacked in a cone shape), or fatayer, a meat pie also available with a filling of spinach.
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It’s a big change for those who are American and for whom eating and drinking while playing is part of the experience. And no, while you can’t get a beer with alcohol in stadiums, you can get a souvenir glass of beer by buying a Bud Zero. You can definitely find places to drink inside and outside the stadiums – be prepared to pay anywhere from $15-30 per drink.
Looking around Qatar
Lines for the Metro train after the match are at least an hour but well timed. Some say that if beer was sold after the game, the crowds waiting for the trains would get smaller but also the crowds wouldn’t be as friendly!
Unlike previous host cities, local facilities with live match feeds are hard to find, but more are being installed every day. Watching sports in Qatar is not a national pastime like in other countries.
Tourist attractions in Qatar mainly focus on Islamic and Qatari culture, such as the Museum of Islamic Art and the National Museum, which share history in a beautiful architectural setting. The malls are elaborate and most are open until 2am
We ventured into the desert to explore the dunes and of course ride a camel. And the FIFA World Cup mascot, affectionately called “Casper the Friendly Ghost Arab style” by Americans, has not been spotted in physical form but is well represented digitally.
Good thing Qatar has plenty of solar power as the city is lit beyond what you’d experience in Vegas with eye-catching fan-favorite gamer building wraps.
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For the volunteers there are several special touches including a mural with all the names of 20,000 volunteers; special treats every time you check in like keychains and chocolates; as well as contests to win tickets and a volunteer center to meet and hang out with others.
The World Cup ticket app proved not that user friendly and completely failed on day 2, wreaking havoc in the stadiums before it was fixed the next day. For some fans, ticket QR codes don’t show up on their phone until you arrive at the stadium for a match. Security is well organized and thorough, with no fan searches at the entrance as at other major sporting events. Women are typically channeled through a separate line.
Editor’s Note: Professor of Sports Management at George Washington University Lisa Delpy Neirotti is on the field in Qatar for SportsTravel. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is his sixth World Cup, having first attended the event in 1994 when he worked with the host committee. He’s in Qatar with 16 George Washington students who are spending 12 days volunteering at different stadiums. The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing earlier this year was his 21st consecutive games in various capacities. She has been at George Washington University for 32 years.
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