22 Nov, 2022 @ 15:51
2 mins read

OUR MAN IN QATAR: Having a fantastic time at ‘non-drinking’ World Cup

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Our man in Qatar, fresh from watching his team England put in a stellar performance to destroy Iran with six goals, is loving his time at the 2022 World Cup in Doha – as might be expected after such an excellent start.

But it is not just the afterglow of a brilliant team showing on the grandest stages from a team that so often disappoints that has him over the moon.

This is the best-organised World Cup he has ever been to, he told the Olive Press, which is made extra special by the fact that it is the only one to ever be held in a single city, as opposed to across an entire country (or two).

That means football shirts from all 32 nationalities can be seen packed into one city, all rubbing shoulders, and all having a fantastic time.

“It’s a really friendly competition,” he told the Olive Press from the queue to enter the Lusail stadium for the Argentina versus Saudi Arabia match.

“Everyone’s cheering for everybody else – except the team you’re playing against! And even, there’s no sort of bad feeling between them.”

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Our man in Qatar (right) poses with a friend before watching one of the games on a big screen in Doha. Credit: The Olive Press

While there has been a lot of grumbling against Fifa’s last minute decision to ban the sale of alcohol in the stadiums, our man assures the Olive Press that it’s “not really a drinking World Cup.”

“It hasn’t got the same sort of booze mentality as some of the previous World Cups. There’s no menace, no drunkenness, no rowdy aggressiveness.

“There’s so much to do here. There’s so much going on that you’re never bored.”

Another benefit of having the tournament in one city is that fans can attend two matches in one day – something that has never been possible before.

After celebrating England’s victory among an international crowd that included large numbers of good-natured Iranians in nearby seats, who were protesting their own government’s trampling of women’s rights in their country, our man in Qatar went to the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium to watch plucky underdogs Wales take on fellow underdogs the USA.

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Our man calls this the ‘best-organised’ World Cup he’s ever been to. Credit: The Olive Press

The trip to the Lusail stadium this morning took about one hour on a free bus – one of a fleet of them – and although there are queues, they are always moving and crowds are never standing still.

An Argentina shirt with ‘Messi’ on the back seems to be the order of the day, with sometimes groups as large as ten people all wearing the same shirt.

And the tournament is even throwing up sporting shocks for the ages.

“The Saudis are expecting to get beat – it’s just by how many,” our man said before the Argentina versus Saudi Arabia game. “They’re just really proud to have the thing [World Cup] here,”

Saudi Arabia won 2-1.

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es

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