Thinking about going to the 2022 World Cup? Here is what you need to know

Qatar world cup
Tickets are now on sale for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but human rights concerns in the country have complicated the decision to attend for some fans. (Photo: Shutterstock, and Twitter)
The most avidly followed sports event on Earth, the FIFA World Cup, returns this fall — another chance to find out if what has often been said about soccer is true: That 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes, and the Germans always win.اضافة اعلان

At the last World Cup, in 2018, the Germans did not win. The French did, and they will be back for this year’s tournament in Qatar, along with their young superstar Kylian Mbappé. So will Argentina’s incomparable Lionel Messi and Portugal’s icon Cristiano Ronaldo in what could be their World Cup swan songs.

A new star is sure to rise into the footballing firmament this year — will it be Canada’s Alphonso Davies, born to Liberian parents in a Ghanaian refugee camp and raised in Alberta, now shining for Bayern Munich? How will the Americans do after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament?

These are some of the many reasons for fans to head to the 64 matches of the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar, where the desert heat has pushed the schedule back from its customary summertime window to November 21 to December 18.

For those planning to attend, the time to get tickets and a place to stay is now. But there are also some compelling reasons not to attend. Below, a primer on Qatar 2022: where to go, how to go and, crucially, should you even go at all.

Human rights concerns have clouded this year’s World Cup

Concerns arose soon after Qatar was named host in 2010. As the tiny Persian Gulf nation rushed to build seven new soccer stadiums, an airport, transit system, hotels, apartments, and other infrastructure, allegations quickly followed that many of the country’s 2 million migrant workers were being forced to endure deplorably dangerous conditions.

The human rights organization Amnesty International detailed “rampant” exploitation and abuse, with reports of migrant laborers being unpaid and working excessive hours, often in the oppressive heat. The country responded to the scrutiny by introducing labor reforms in recent years, and tournament organizers say that they have improved conditions for workers.

So, you want to attend. How will this year’s World Cup tournament work?

This year’s World Cup comprises 32 teams, 31 of which have survived the two-year qualifying process. (The 32nd, Qatar, qualified automatically as hosts.) They are placed in eight groups of four teams each, with each team guaranteed at least three matches.
Qatar is by far the smallest country ever to host the tournament, so in some ways this should be the easiest World Cup to attend.
The top 16 advance to the knockout phase — followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals — with the world champion crowned at the grand finale at the 80,000-seat Lusail International Stadium in Lusail, a city just north of Doha, the country’s capital, on December 18.

Qatar is by far the smallest country ever to host the tournament, so in some ways this should be the easiest World Cup to attend. All eight stadiums are within a 56km radius of Doha, so instead of needing to hop on planes and trains to follow their team over hundreds or even thousands of kilometers, fans at Qatar 2022 will hardly have to travel at all. In fact, five of the eight stadiums are accessible via the Doha Metro (shuttle buses will take fans to the outlying stadiums).

Even though the tournament will be played in November and December, it will still be hot, with an average high of 85 degrees at the start of the tournament and 75 by the end. But games will kick off in the late afternoon and evening, and all the stadiums (only one has a retractable roof) will be air-conditioned, using solar-powered ventilation and cooling systems designed to keep spectators comfortable.

How do you get tickets?

You can enter the ticket lottery until April 28 at 5am ET. After that, FIFA will conduct a random selection draw, with successful applicants being notified starting May 31. You can apply for tickets to individual matches, or all matches a particular team will play. There is also a way to reserve provisional tickets if your team advances to the knockout phase.

Prices range from $70 to $220 for individual tickets to group matches and escalate through the knockout phase. Tickets for the championship final will cost from $600 to $1,600.

What about traveling to Qatar?

If you succeed in getting tickets, the next thing to do is get a Hayya Card — a mandatory all-purpose identification card for the World Cup visitor. The Hayya Card (Hayya means “let’s go” in Arabic) not only acts as an entry visa to Qatar but it must be presented — in addition to your ticket — to get into the stadium on match days.

Several airlines fly to Doha from various cities including American, Finnair, Turkish, and Royal Jordanian. Qatar Airways offers more than 100 weekly flights from 12 cities in the US.

Qatar Airways also offers all-inclusive packages that come with match tickets, flights and accommodations.

As for Qatar’s coronavirus rules, Qatar currently requires adult visitors to show either proof of vaccination or a certificate of recovery to avoid quarantine, as well as negative results from a test taken within 48 hours of departure. Current in-country regulations require masking on public transport and in stadiums, stores, and hotels. Proof of vaccination is required to enter many buildings, and travelers are required to have Ehteraz, a COVID-19 notification app, on their phones.

How about accommodations — can Qatar handle the influx?

Beds may be hard to come by, with just 130,000 rooms for the up to 1.5 million visitors expected over the tournament. Apartment complexes meant to house fans are still being built, many near expressways and in dusty industrial zones.

The Qatar 2022 website has an accommodations portal that is the best place to start your search for lodgings. The website features listings at hotels, apartments, and villas or aboard two large cruise ships docked at Doha for the duration of the tournament. There is also an option to stay at “fan villages,” which the site describes as “a variety of casual camping and cabin-style accommodation for the avid fan,” accompanied by a photo of a tent amid vast sand dunes. “More information coming soon,” says the caption.

A recent search on the site for hotel rooms showed nothing available, a disappointment for those who would fancy a room at the Four Seasons Doha. But even the lowly three-star listings showed no vacancies.

However, some apartments and villas were available. On the low end was an apartment in Al-Wakrah, a suburb of Doha, for $84 a night. On the high end, a villa in Doha was going for $920 a night.

Cabins aboard the MSC Poesia, moored at Doha port, start at $179 on the website; aboard the MSC World Europa they are $347.

Airbnb had some bookings in Qatar for the World Cup, tending to consist of tents going for $100 a night or apartments starting at $500 a night. Some fans may have to resort to staying in the UAE at Abu Dhabi, about 530km from Doha, or Dubai, around 627km away, and take a car, bus or plane to the game.

Any other tips for staying in Qatar?

Fans attending the World Cup should be mindful that while the country is making some allowances for the coming influx of tourists, Qatar is a conservative Muslim country and visitors should be aware of its laws and customs.

For instance, it is illegal to drink in public. During the World Cup, alcohol will be available in designated areas, such as hotels and special “fan zones,” but public intoxication can carry a six-month jail sentence.

“Visitors (men as well as women) are expected to show respect for local culture by avoiding excessively revealing clothing in public,” the official Visit Qatar website advises. “It is generally recommended for men and women to ensure their shoulders and knees are covered.”

Public displays of affection between men and women are “frowned upon,” according to Visit Qatar.

Even if you are a super fan of soccer with the funds to travel, deciding whether to go to this year’s World Cup could be a tense task.

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