Doha, Qatar (CNN) — The lodging is in tents or prefabs, there is no beer within the stadiums, the temperatures are uncomfortably scorching and the entire occasion is mired in controversy over alleged human rights abuses.
Whereas that is not sufficient to discourage hardcore soccer followers from touring to Qatar to assist their nationwide groups within the World Cup, extra surprisingly, it hasn’t been sufficient to discourage even these whose nation groups aren’t even within the competitors.
Stroll across the slender streets of downtown Doha and you’ll’t assist however get caught up in World Cup fever, with followers from all 4 corners of the globe assembly in squares and eating places to have fun their cultures with each other.
The evenings are notably busy, with teams gathering collectively by nation, singing their hearts out to the seemingly fixed rhythm of drums that reverberate by means of downtown Doha.
One of many loudest teams within the days working as much as kickoff was a pocket of England followers from India.
The group is totally coordinated, sporting the identical shirt with the identify of England captain Harry Kane on the again. They proudly sing songs related to the English nationwide workforce however they combine them with conventional chants from again residence.
‘Soccer is our life’
Doha’s Souq Waqif market has turn into hub of fan exercise.
DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 17: Uruguay followers roam the streets with flags and scarves forward of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Souq Waqif on November 17, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photograph by Dan Mullan/Getty Pictures)
Qatar 2022 organizers, in addition to FIFA, rubbished the claims and a member of the group informed CNN that he was stunned to see the headlines.
“We’re a fan group from Kerala, in South India,” he mentioned, too busy singing and dancing to provide his full identify.
“India will not be within the event and now we have at all times cherished England. We used to observe David Beckham play so we’re obsessed with England in Qatar.”
These followers are consultant of a wider theme of Qatar 2022, which has allowed many to get a style of World Cup motion.
“I am right here as a result of it is a good alternative and it’s totally near our nation,” he mentioned. “In 2018, the World Cup [in Russia] was too removed from our nation however now we really feel the World Cup is in our residence.”
“Within the Center East we at all times watch soccer. Soccer is our life.”
Ali Abbadi, like many others in Doha, shall be supporting Argentina at Qatar 2022.
The 35-year-old was proudly sporting an Argentina shirt and he is actually not alone.
The blue and white colours are by far the most well-liked in Doha this week and nearly all of the shirts have the identify Messi on the again.
It not solely demonstrates the famous person participant’s pulling energy but in addition the impression that his present membership Paris-Saint Germain has had on the world.
The French aspect is owned by the Qatar Sports activities Funding group and posters of its star gamers, Neymar and Messi, are plastered throughout Doha.
However, in contrast to many who’ve adopted the South American aspect for this 12 months’s event, it is not the rationale that Ali is cheering for them.
“I supported Argentina even earlier than Messi. Messi is doing an excellent job however I supported Argentina for greater than 15 years,” he mentioned.
“I watched gamers like [Gabriel] Batistuta, [Hernán] Crespo, so I hope they win in Qatar.”
It seems you do not even should be passionate a couple of workforce so as to benefit from the World Cup.
‘It is excellent’
The Leungs are staying in one of many fan villages and shall be cheering for the Netherlands.
The scramble for lodging is more likely to scorching up given Qatar is ready to welcome an estimated 1.5 million followers over the month-long event, which begins on November 20.
“It is a actually good alternative to return to a number nation that’s smaller than my residence metropolis [Beijing],” mentioned Peng, who informed CNN he had tickets for 35 matches over the event.
“We will have the chance to attend so many video games, it is excellent.”
When requested who he’d be supporting on the World Cup, Peng mentioned he had “no actual choice” however wished South Korea and Japan to do properly.
“As I am Asian, I need the Asian groups to do properly however I am simply trying ahead to seeing good outcomes,” he mentioned.
“Additionally, I hope China can qualify for the following World Cup in America, that will be so particular.”
Just a few doorways down from the place CNN met Peng, Jimmy and Kennis Leung had been getting cozy of their residence for the following 16 days.
The couple traveled to Qatar from Hong Kong however, in contrast to Peng, they very a lot have a favourite workforce to assist.
Jimmy was dressed within the distinctive orange colours of The Netherlands and says he is excited to see his adopted workforce play, regardless of there being no apparent hyperlinks with the Dutch aspect.
“They’ve nice gamers and historical past and I identical to the workforce,” he mentioned, beaming. “I need to see all their group video games”
Amid all of the criticism of Qatar 2022, the event has undoubtedly offered a possibility for individuals to get pleasure from one of many world’s largest sporting occasions for the primary time.
Organizers will hope these tales go a way in justifying the choice to let the tiny nation of Qatar host a World Cup like no different.
Prime picture credit score: David Ramos/Getty Pictures