Fifa World Cup 2022: Wales fans fear being priced out

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Fifa World Cup 2022: Wales fans fear being priced out

By Matt Murray
BBC News

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Wales players celebrate qualifying for their first World Cup since 1958

Wales football fans keen to follow the team in the Fifa World Cup in Qatar in November fear they will be priced out of the tournament.

The Wales football team qualified for its first World Cup in 64 years on Sunday after defeating Ukraine in their qualifying play-off final in Cardiff.

Wales fans may be allocated just 2,500 tickets for each game, according to media reports.

Fifa and the FAW will confirm ticket allocation this week.

Welsh fan Tim Hartley has not missed a Wales game for 20 years.

He booked three flights for his wife and son yesterday along with accommodation in Dubai, with the plan to fly into Doha for the matches.

“My fear is – and what the fans suspected – this is becoming the millionaire’s World Cup,” he said.

“It’s not for the normal fan, it was ill-conceived in the first instance.

“Real fans are being priced out of the game. I read today it’s going to be 5% capacity offered to team supporters. Five per cent?

“For the loyalty we’ve shown Wales and the money we’ve given Fifa over the years.”

Image source, Tim Hartley
Image caption,
Tim Hartley questions why the World Cup is being held in a place as hot as Qatar

Wales will play their group games in Al Rayyan, a suburb south-west of the capital Doha, kicking off on 21 November against the US.

“We’re in a 40,000-capacity stadium, so that’s 2,500 tickets,” Mr Hartley said.

“It’s no reward for our loyalty.

“We are messed around by Uefa in the Euros and now we’re being messed around again, and why?

“Because someone thought it was a good idea to have a World Cup in Qatar, a country with a smaller population than Wales, with no history or tradition of football and in the winter when it’ll still be too hot there.”

‘Uphill battle’

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, popularly known as the Al-Rayyan Stadium, where Wales will play their group matches

A decade ago Wales were 117th in the world rankings alongside Haiti and Mozambique. But they qualified for the 2016 and 2020 European Championships.

Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Noel Mooney said: “The way it works with the Fifa protocols is that we only get about 5% of the stadium, which I think… it’s a 40,000 stadium and 5% of that is not a whole lot.”

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Downtown Doha, which is about 20 minutes from where Wales will play

Mr Mooney said the FAW would “have to work with Fifa and others to try and get as many tickets as we can for our supporters”.

Tournament organisers say accommodation will have to be arranged before travelling out.

It will include hotels, apartments, villas, fan villages and cruise ship cabins, with official accommodation starting from $100 (£80) per room per night.

Flights normally take six hours and 40 minutes from London, but there will be charter flights from Cardiff organised by Welsh travel operators.

Suzanne Cumpston is a travel agent at Sam Smith travel in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan.

Image caption,
Travel agent Suzanne Cumpston advised fans against booking flights only

“After the fabulous win our phones were quite hot and we had clients come into our offices and enquiring about travelling Qatar and to the World Cup,” she said.

“This is the first time the tournament has been held in a Muslim country so there are different rules around alcohol.

“The top tip for anyone travelling is to log on to the Qatar travel advice page as well as Fifa.

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone to book a flight only.”

Fans will need a fan identification card, which will also act as a visa to get into Qatar, to get into games.

“It acts as visa and allows free travel on match days linking Doha to the stadiums,” Ms Cumpston explained.

“You do need to have an official ticket provided by an official provider to apply for the Hayya card.

“There’s also considerations around Covid – at the moment you still need to show proof of vaccination and you still need to have a PCR test, but that could change by November.

“I’d recommend fans book tailor-made package where you have your flights, match tickets and accommodation all booked to avoid a hassle and have a stress free experience.”

Claire Hopkin, from Newport, lives and works in Dubai, and has recently relaunched Arabian Golf Tours, which specialises in organising bespoke golf tours to the Middle East.

She told BBC Radio Wales’ Drive programme Wales fans would do better to head for Dubai as there was “hardly any” accommodation available in Qatar.

She said: “You can only visit Qatar if you have a ticket. This blanket ban on anyone who does not have a ticket was announced in the past four to six weeks.

“Qatar has been full for the past year. There has been very little availability on accommodation for the past year. There were a couple of options on the cruise ships but they were very overpriced.”

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