FIFA ‘inundated’ with demand for 2022 World Cup tickets

FIFA ‘inundated’ with demand for 2022 World Cup tickets

Synopsis

Fans have sought 17 million tickets for this year’s global football event

FIFA ‘inundated’ with demand for 2022 World Cup tickets
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The most awaited global sporting event, FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and the football enthusiasts cannot wait for the first whistle to blow in Qatar.

As a result, according to FIFA, fans have sought 17 million tickets for this year’s World Cup, making it more than five times over-subscribed.

Higher prices being demanded for the best tickets — which cost up to $1,600 for the final — and controversy over Qatar’s bid did not deter followers of the world’s most popular sport.

“Fans across the globe have proven their enthusiasm,” FIFA said.

Demand was highest from the host country of the November-December event. But FIFA said it had been “inundated” with requests from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

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Some 1.8 million tickets were sought just for the final, which will be held in the Lusail stadium, which can seat 80,000 fans, on December 18, the world body said.

Tickets for the game will cost between $165 — for some Qatari residents — and $1,600. The top price is more than 45 per cent higher than the best places for the 2018 final in Russia, which was won by France.

The cheapest final tickets for international fans are $600, about a third more expensive than the last time and some fan groups have complained about the high rates.

Organisers said about 3.3 million tickets for all games will be available. Qatari residents, including its army of migrant workers, will pay as little as $11 for a ticket for less popular games.

FIFA, which hopes to make more than $500 million from tickets, broadcasting rights and other World Cup commercial revenues, said fans who were successful in a computer lottery would be told by March 8.

Qatar braces for visitor deluge

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After 20 days of the application closure on Tuesday, FIFA said it will check applications before tickets are allocated in a computer draw.

Qatar has been preparing for 11 years to host the first World Cup in the Arab world and the first held in the traditional winter months of the top football nations. The date was moved because of the scorching summer temperatures in the Gulf.

It has spent billions of dollars on a building blitz, including seven new stadiums and refurbishing one, all in a 50 kilometre radius of central Doha.

The Lusail stadium is to be inaugurated next month but many surrounding skyscrapers are still engulfed in cranes.

Qatar has also faced questions over its rights record — especially conditions for migrant workers who built the stadiums — and what fans can expect.

Rights groups say hundreds of workers have died in accidents and the heat. A number of national teams staged protests over rights concerns during qualifying matches.

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Qatar authorities say conditions and labour laws have changed drastically over the past decade and they have been “unfairly” criticised.

The tiny state is expecting up to 1.2 million visitors but as it does not have enough hotel rooms, thousands of fans will be housed on cruise ships during the event.

“The first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world will be an extraordinary event,” according to Nasser Al Khater, Qatar’s chief organiser who has promised that everything will be ready.

FIFA released the figures as Qatar marked a National Sports Day holiday. Former England star David Beckham, now an ambassador for the Qatar organisers, appeared at a women’s football tournament in the Gulf state. No spectators were allowed however.

Hasan al-Haj, who was jogging with his daughter at the Education City complex in Doha, said he had applied for tickets for five matches.

“There is not a fever yet, we can see there is still a lot to do, but I know a lot of people here who have applied. This is going to be an important event. We will discover the world and the world will see what Qatar can do,” he said proudly.

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FIFA and the organisers have not said what they will do if the coronavirus pandemic surges again but insist they have plans.

‘World Cup will be health benchmark’

Meanwhile, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar will become a “benchmark” for holding future global sporting events during a health crisis.

The organisers maintained that they are “cautiously optimistic” it will be the first mass gathering of sports fans for a global sports event since the coronavirus pandemic erupted two years ago.

Spectators were largely been forbidden from attending last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics — save for a few events outside the Japanese capital — and the ongoing Winter Olympics in China.

Football has a duty “to make sure this not only turnout to be the best World Cup ever but also the healthiest World Cup ever,” Infantino said in a recorded statement for the event.

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He added that the health and security standards will be “a benchmark for future sporting events of this scale.”

The same message was given by World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who highlighted the “unique challenges” faced by the organisers because of the pandemic.

WHO has been working with the Qatar government on health security, infectious diseases, food safety, co-ordination and communication during the World Cup.

“The lessons learned from Qatar’s experience in this World Cup will help us all in designing health and safety measures for other large scale events,” Tedros added.

Neither FIFA nor the Qatar organisers, who have spent billions of dollars preparing for the event, have said what would happen if a new coronavirus wave threatens the event.

But Hassan Al Thawadi, Director General of the Government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said: “While the pandemic is still very much here with us, we can now see real light at the end of the tunnel.

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“In our eyes, the pandemic has given Qatar 2022 a new significance. Our World Cup may well be the first time that the world can properly come together to celebrate its passion for football.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we may be the country that hosts the first true gathering of global fans since the start of the crisis,” added Thawadi.

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