FIFA World Cup 2022: Picture reveals truth about Qatar, crowds, stadiums

Walking down the Souq Waqif at lunch time and you could think this was a World Cup in a more “deserving” country.

Fans are decked out in team colours, Mexicans (who travel in huge numbers to every World Cup) sing despite their team not even playing today.

Restaurants are packed. So much so that trying to find a spare table is almost impossible.

After 90 minutes and four failed attempts at restaurants finally a table is found.

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In fact the only thing missing from this scene is beer. Travel to a World Cup in any other nation – like Germany, South Africa or Brazil recently – and it’s the same scene. People out celebrating and mixing with other cultures.

But every restaurant and bar will be filled with people enjoying a cold beer as well.

Not that you can’t find a beer in Doha.

Many hotels have bars and the Irish Pub on level 14 of the Best Western is packed with football fans drinking tap beer as the games blare on the TVs.

Just be prepared to pay $A20 for a beer served in a plastic cup.

Many people have described Qatar as a strange World Cup but that seems unfair.

It’s different but not strange.

The issues around Qatar winning the rights to the World Cup remain. You can’t help but think of how many workers died to build the stadiums when you arrive at the impressive constructions.

And the handling of the issues around LBGTI rights has been poor. Wales fans had to remove rainbow hats they were wearing to the USA game.

After the Welsh FA held talks with FIFA apparently they’ll be allowed to from now on.

But now the World Cup is under way and fans are getting to games, it feels like any other tournament.

Because all the games are in Doha, fans are able to see multiple games a day. Something that won’t happen again.

Like other tournaments getting to and from stadiums is never a simple task. There are free buses for fans but you’ll have to walk a long way to catch one and it won’t be quick.

Ubers are in abundance and cheap but trying to find the meeting point is never easy.

At the games it seems like they’ve tried to make every game a big event.

Each stadium had its own mini opening ceremony. And there are people trying to hype the crowd up.

Seven Nation Army blares in an attempt to get the crowd going.

But the atmosphere largely depends on who is playing.

Mexico, Argentina and Tunisia? You’re in for a pumping night.

Wales – in their first World Cup in 64 years – have brought their A game.

France, Spain or Portugal? For big football nations they don’t bring a lot of noise.

Maybe it’s the lack of beer to blame. While you can’t find expensive beers in the city, Qatar backflipped on a plan to sell beer at the stadiums.

Instead you can try and enjoy a Zero Budweiser…

Ah yes the crowds. The stadiums definitely aren’t full. But they’re hardly half empty either.

And it’s hardly something new. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa also had plenty of empty seats.

On the field the action has either been frantic or a little dull.

Four nil-all draws already shows that not all the winners are classics. Four years ago there was only one game without any goals.

There were fears fans would boycott this World Cup but so far that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Being played in Qatar means it’s opening up the World Cup to different parts of the world – like India – to help make up for any missing fans.

FIFA is quick to point out the TV ratings around the world have been higher than four years ago.

There’s no doubt giving the World Cup to Qatar was wrong but there are a few positives now it’s under way.

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