Qatar 50/50

Qatar 50/50

Qatar 50/50 World Cup 2022.

After 4 years and 142 days I am heading back to the World Cup. A lot has happened since I left the joyous Russians celebrating their knockout win over Spain outside the Bolshoi ballet in Moscow.

If you had told me then what was going to happen before the next World Cup, well only Nostradamus could have possibly predicted it. I think it's fair to say it has been the worst four years of our lives (so far) however old we are. The highlight in between times for me was Marcelo Bielsa who showed the whole world how to act and play football.

But at least now we have the competition to look forward to. As ever a lot of time and effort goes into planning my schedule and deciding where to go. This time life was made easier by the fact that the longest journey between stadiums being used is 46 miles. Nothing in comparison to travelling from St Petersburg to Ekaterinburg, and back.

I consulted with friends and found a variety of options, ranging from just following their team, going for a week, being a “delegate” and going to every game in the tournament.

So in order to keep my options open back in September 2021 I asked for a whole month off. Unfortunately, my request was declined and I was given the first and last week of the tournament. Not ideal, but at least I had time off while the tournament was on.

The idea of following my team is not one I have that much experience of, but the Euros did give me a taste. Scotland would be playing Ukraine in a playoff game in March, so I thought I could wait until that was decided before I started finalising my plans. In the meantime I got tickets to two games in the opening ballot. At this stage the draw had not been made, so no idea who I would be seeing. A friend got a set of Scotland tickets in the draw, meaning he had tickets to watch Scotland all the way to The Final…. should they progress.

Welcome to Qatar.

The Scotland game was postponed due to the conflict in Ukraine, but the draw for the World Cup had now been made. My first two tickets were for the Netherlands v Ecuador in Group A and Argentina v Mexico in Group C.

I also now faced a dilemma if Scotland made it I would miss their last game (no, not The Final). So I put in a request at work for extra days holiday and managed to get an extra three days, that meant I could see Scotland's last game and fly home the next day in the early hours.

Ok, so when Scotland played Ukraine they lost. Hopes dashed on following my team. On a positive note due to everything that was happening in the world exchange rates meant that my friend got more money back than he paid for his provisional Scotland tickets.

Now I could start making plans, the organisers made it a condition of buying tickets that you could not attend two consecutive matches on the same day, as despite the short distances there is only going to be an hour between each game.

Local kick-off times will be 13.00, 16.00, 19.00, and 22.00. Whilst I was disappointed, I could see the logic in the decision and would not want to be leaving matches early or arriving late, so maybe just watching two a day would be the best option.

Qatar 50/50 - World Cup 2022.

I was given the option to be a delegate in the week before the tournament started. Unfortunately by then I already had my plans sorted. The benefits of being a delegate included, free flights, accommodation in Qatar and an opening match ticket. In addition, there was also a daily allowance of £60.

You may have just read about this being withdrawn in the national press. All the delegate has to do is support their team and give positive social media feedback.

Accommodation was proving a little difficult to organise, I was offered a place in a house near Al Thumama Stadium, one of the venues, but was aware that this area is not connected to the metro, so decided against it.

Cruise ships were another option, but I didn't fancy spending my time in quarantine. Eventually, I found a hotel in central Doha. I tried to book it for my whole trip, but couldn't get it every night I wanted. On a positive note that means I get to experience a Fan Village.

Over the last few months, I have become addicted once more to the FIFA website, continuously trying to get tickets.The system they use is bizarre as they claim the tournament is sold out, and then days before the tournament starts release tickets for sale.

They had a chance to sell out the tournament but because they have made everything so difficult I feel that all the tickets will not be sold. Due to my perseverance, I managed to get the tickets for the games I decided to go to and was even able to help a few people with theirs.

Another hurdle that was put in the way was the need to have a negative Covid test just prior to departure. Now although statistics are not in the news, I know if you test 100 people you will find a few that test positive. The organisers issued confirmation of this a month ago, then two days later changed their mind. As you will realize, as as I write they are constantly reviewing everything, and anything could change.

The next hurdle, my flight is due to depart from Heathrow Airport in London, where there is currently a baggage handler strike. Having weighed in at 6.6 kg I am hoping that my flight is not affected.

Starting my journey now, the day before the tournament starts. Today I feel nervous.

Qatar skyline.
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© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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