Queues and no water mar Qatar stadium test

“Stop! Can’t you see the subway station is full? Stop!” shouted an exhausted supervisor as the green-jacketed marshals joined their arms to hold thousands of fans streaming from the stadium that will host the FIFA World Cup final in Qatar.

It was past midnight on Friday and for hours nearly 78,000 people had left the stadium after a near-capacity match tested the small Gulf state’s preparation for the tournament, which begins on November 20.

“Let’s go! We have children, ”cried a man carrying a sweaty child. “We need water. Is there water? shouted a woman behind the line.

There weren’t any.

The stadium stands ran out of water during the intermission and there was none outside, where the late summer temperature was 34 ° C but felt much warmer due to the humidity.

Friday’s game, called the Lusail Super Cup, was the first time the new Lusail stadium had hosted such a large crowd. With 80,000 seats, it is the largest of Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums and a gold flagship designed to host the final match in December. 18.

Qatar is the first country in the Middle East and the smallest country to host the World Cup. Despite spending billions of dollars on infrastructure, it has never staged an event of such magnitude – which, unusually for a World Cup, will also be held in or around a single city.

There will be four matches around Doha every day for the first 12 days of the tournament. FIFA, the governing body of world football, said that 2.45 million out of a possible 3 million tickets have already been sold and that an unprecedented 1.2 million people, the equivalent of nearly half the population of the Qatar, they should visit.

Organizers said exactly 77,575 people passed through the turnstiles on Friday, the largest crowd ever seen in Qatar. Families took the children to the stadium, arriving before a performance by Egyptian singer Amr Diab. Hundreds of Saudi fans wore the blue jersey of Al Hilal, the Saudi team that beat Egypt’s Zamalek on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

With migrants often taken by buses to fill the empty arenas, hundreds of South Asian and African workers were also present in one section of the stadium, wearing identical white, blue or red shirts. They left en masse at the interval to board the buses.

When asked about the startup issues, a spokesperson for the organizers of the Supreme Delivery and Legacy Committee told Reuters that the game was designed to identify operational problems and learn lessons for a “transparent” World Cup.

In the post-match chaos, a fan exiting the stadium cursed, nudged a marshal in the neck and ran across the cordon, followed by several others, trying to reach the subway.

The station entrance is 400 meters from the stadium, but fans waited in a 2.5km line that snaked back and forth across an empty pitch. Officials said it was to prevent a stampede.

Some vendors, restaurateurs, security personnel and medical personnel have had difficulty accessing the stadium, a vendor told Reuters.

“Even some ambulances were driving around trying to figure out where they should be placed. Sometimes they gave us wrong directions and the parking passes we had were for lots that didn’t exist, ”said the supplier, who didn’t want their name published.

“It’s such a mess,” said Eslam, an Egyptian fan who has lived in Doha since 2004 and had his arm around an exhausted, hazy-eyed friend. “I don’t want to go to the World Cup anymore. Not if so. “

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