Countdown to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, shown earlier this month at the Arab Cup 21, which served as a test eventGetty Images
Qatar “wants to attract 1.2 million people to the World Cup but will struggle to accommodate many,” according to the AP’s Rob Harris. With ticket sales starting in January, “fans are in shock when looking for accommodation: Qatar already seems full.” Extensive searches of major hotel chains and aggregation websites found “only one property available for the entire tournament”, which runs from November 21 to December 21. 18. Most rooms have already been block-booked by World Cup organisers, “partly to avoid price gouging, but mainly to ensure availability” for teams, FIFA officials, sponsors and the media. Qatar’s Supreme Committee, which is in charge of World Cup planning, has provided the first details acknowledging accommodation issues “after weeks of questions”. Only about 90,000 rooms will be made available to the public via a website. That’s “about the same number of American fans” who had tickets to the 2018 World Cup in Russia when hotels were available on the open market. Still, it is predicted, based on surveys and data modeling, that 850,000 foreign visitors will need rooms, while World Cup organizers have also announced that more than 1.2 million visitors will come. . The most recent data from the Qatar Tourism Authority indicates that there are 33,208 rooms in hotels and hotel apartments. Football Supporters Europe executive director Ronan Evain said: “It becomes a bit of a dystopian World Cup if the stadium could be anywhere in the world… in the middle of the desert and then you just have to fly. It’s definitely not the experience that the majority of fans are looking for” (PA, 12/29).