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Qatar World Cup 2022: Local media reports widespread issues with test event

Match at Lusail Stadium, where the final will be played, beset with water shortages, air conditioning problems and other poor infrastructure
Spectators head to the Lusail Stadium in Qatar for the Lusail Super Cup (Reuters)
Spectators head to the Lusail Stadium in Qatar for the Lusail Super Cup (Reuters)

The first event to be held at the stadium that the World Cup final will be held in Qatar was marred with widespread issues, according to Qatari media, including water shortages, a lack of air conditioning and long walks in 35-degree heat.

Over 77,000 people attended the Lusail Super Cup at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium on Friday night, which saw Saudi team Al-Hilal beat Egypt’s Zamalek in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. 

The crowd was the biggest ever in Qatar. The 80,000 capacity Lusail Stadium will host the final of football’s biggest international tournament on 18 December.

But fans were left frustrated by disorganisation and “never-ending issues”, according to a report in Doha News, a Qatari news website.

Supporters told the outlet that some parking lots allocated for fans did not offer bus shuttle services to the stadium, leaving them walking for over 45 minutes in 35 degree heat to reach the venue. 

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Many dehydrated fans, including children, had their bottled water taken away from them once they reached the venue, due to the stadium’s rules. They then struggled to purchase food or drinks, which most vendors had run out of.

“There’s no water, no Pepsi, no food. Everyone is struggling to try to find anything to eat or drink,” said Hussain al-Ashaq, a prominent Qatari influencer who was in attendance. 

'There’s no water, no Pepsi, no food. Everyone is struggling to try to find anything to eat or drink'

- Hussain al Ashaq, Qatari influencer

“What will we do during the World Cup? I don’t want to even go anymore,” said one father who struggled to find water for his daughter.

Another spectator said she spent 20 minutes looking for the women’s bathroom, and that no one knew where it was, giving her false directions. 

Several fans complained about a lack of air conditioning amid high temperatures and humidity levels. 

This will come as a surprise to many, given that the World Cup, which starts on 20 November, is set to be the first to be played within air-conditioned stadiums. 

During the half-time entertainment, organisers unveiled the Arabic version of the World Cup song Arhbo

But fans noted that the sound system had initially failed, leaving many unable to hear the first part of the track. The issue was resolved later on during the performance. 

The 2022 World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said the event would provide experience for Qatar ahead of November’s tournament. 

“As a test event, the Super Cup was designed to identify any operational issues and learn lessons that may be applied to help Qatar deliver a seamless experience for all at the Fifa World Cup 2022,” it said in a statement.

“Every team involved in the event’s organisation gained invaluable experience they will carry into this year’s tournament.”

In December, Middle East Eye travelled to Doha to report on Qatar’s preparations for the tournament. 

MEE found that large swathes of the capital remained under construction, with migrant labourers working hard to meet fast-approaching deadlines.

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