Football – Four World Cup games in one day to test Qatar’s logistics

DOHA, Nov 22 (Reuters) – The Gulf Arab state of Qatar’s new road and transport system will be put to the test on Tuesday when four World Cup matches will be played in and around the capital Doha.

Doha, which expects a surge of 1.2 million visitors during the month-long tournament, has promised fans will be able to see more than one match in a day, an innovation for the World Cup, which is traditionally held in multiple cities.

Late in the morning, groups of Saudi and Argentinian fans rode underground trains north to the 80,000-seat and largest stadium in Lusail, where Argentina will play Saudi Arabia at 1000 GMT.

“We left early to get to the fan zone in time to enjoy the atmosphere for the Saudi-Argentina game,” said Iraqi fan Hamdi Mohammad Abbas, 29.

Later, Denmark meets Tunisia, Mexico meets Poland and France meets Australia.

Played in stadiums with a capacity of 40,000 to 80,000 spectators, the games will begin next to Doha Metro’s northernmost station in Lusail and work their way south to conclude with Game Four at Al Janoub Stadium, a 5th – km bus ride from the southern terminus of the subway at Al Wakrah.

Berthold Trenkel, Qatar Tourism’s chief operating officer, told Reuters last week that the country has a state-of-the-art metro system and plenty of shuttle buses will be available.

“All residents have been advised to also use their private transport to get to the stadiums, so you have an equal split between 1/3 subway, 1/3 bus, 1/3 car, etc.,” he said.

“The numbers aren’t that gigantic, so I think things will level out. You just have to tell people you can’t come 20 minutes before the game starts, you have to plan 2-3 hours in advance and you have to be a bit patient.”

Qatar is the first country in the Middle East and the smallest nation to ever host a World Cup. It has spent billions of dollars on infrastructure but has never organized an event on such a scale that, unusually for a World Cup, is also held in or near a single city.

FIFA has issued ticket sales restrictions allowing fans to purchase tickets for two matches with at least four hours between kickoffs.

“Participating in more than one match on the same day is entirely your responsibility,” warns the FIFA website, adding that fans who are unable to attend both matches “for any reason” will not be eligible for a refund.

writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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