Qatar ready for World Cup after successfully hosting Arab Cup
Qatar has declared itself ready to stage the 2022 World Cup after successfully hosting the Arab Cup.
The Cup featured 16 teams from across the Arab World who came together in a tournament that gave players, official and spectators the chance to experience for themselves the atmosphere and the stadiums that will be used to stage the World Cup itself, which gets underway on 21st November.
And, as dress rehearsals go it passed off almost without a hitch, with more than 600,000 tickets being sold, including 63 439 for the final between Algeria and Tunisia, a record for the Middle East country.
For the record Algeria won the match by two goals to nil, adding the Arab Cup to the African Cup of Nations trophy they are defending this month in Cameroon.
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With six of the eight stadiums which will stage World Cup games, there were inevitably a few teething problems. For example, a fan ID system had to be dropped midway through the tournament after fans complained about the length of the queues before some matches, but the only crowd trouble appears to be the seats which were damaged during the quarter-final match between Tunisia and Oman.
There have been reports of some issues with transport access, but organisers now have months to try and fix this.
However, those responsible for the tournament are also aware that whilst the fan base for the Arab Cup was largely domestic, the transport and accommodation infrastructure is likely to come under considerably more strain once hundreds of thousands of fans from abroad land at the airport in November.
For example, it has already been reported that there is a shortage of hotel rooms for those planning to make the trip, and with 1.2 million visitors expected to make the trip, demand will considerably outstrip supply.
There has been talk that tents will be used to try and accommodate the overspill, whilst others may have to base themselves in neighbouring countries and make the trip into Qatar for the matches themselves.
There is also the issue of alcohol, Whilst Qatar is not a dry country, as an Islamic country there is zero tolerance for drinking in public, and being drunk in public is a crime. Whilst the rules are expected to be relaxed somewhat for the World Cup, there is still the potential for a major culture clash because the heavy drinking associated with the fan bases of certain European teams and the local custodians of law and order.
And that also extends to possible hooliganism. Fans of teams like England, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands have all garnered a reputation for themselves for their extremes of behaviour at times, and it is not something that the authorities in Qatar have had any experience of dealing with among the local football supporters.
Qatar has declared it is ready to stage the World Cup but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.