The ‘shock’ of numerous Qatari fans during the opening match went around the world
The Qataris are not very fond of football, and usually only last the first 45 minutes
The dates, the distance and the idiosyncrasy of Qatar have not seduced too many followers
Qatar opened against Ecuador. It was not just any meeting. It was the opening match of the controversial World Cup in Qatar 2022. But at half-time, the Qatari fans fled their seats en masse. Something normal. In Doha it is very hot and it was time to have something cool.
But when the referee played the beginning of the second part, there no one came back. Hundreds of locations were left empty during the last 45 minutes in the brand new Al Khor Stadium in Doha.
Perhaps what happened to the Qatari fans was disappointing, since their team was losing 0-2 against the Ecuadorian. But four days have passed and the image of the stadiums half gas in Qatar game after game is repeated.
The image was repeated in another of the eight dazzling stadiums created for the World Cup. Senegal faced off against the oranges from the Netherlands. An interesting game in the majestic ‘Al Thumama’, the stadium in the shape of a “gafiyha”, the traditional headdress worn by men from the Persian Gulf region.
There were numerous empty areas in the more than 40,000 seats that this stadium has, located 12 kilometers from Doha and in the middle of the desert. in that same stadium Spain overwhelmed Costa Rica this Wednesday. The meeting was vibrant, but the Qatar fans also did not fill the stands.
More of Formula 1 than of balls
While the big sports newspapers around the world such as L’Equipe, which dismissed the Qatari fans’ mid-match march as a “gesture of rudeness”, the truth is that An explanation is sought for the mystery of the empty stadiums.
Some suggest that the meetings are being held late. It is played at 8 pm and 11 pm local time, but the truth is that restaurants in Doha close at 10 pm, and nightclubs at 2 am. Therefore the schedule does not seem to be the reason.
Perhaps the explanation lies in the little predicament that football has among the Qataris. Does too hot to play football outdoors, and before the World Cup there weren’t too many adapted stadiums and, much less, fields in the neighborhoods where you could go out and have a ‘pachanga’ with your friends. We don’t even talk about women.
In a country where gasoline is cheap, and it’s very hot, people choose to move by car. With the vehicle’s air conditioning on full blast and the seat heater, also – don’t ask why – let’s see who is the handsome one who gets out of the car and starts running after the ball at 40 degrees. There are few who walk down the street, which has generated levels of overweight very tallso much so that the Government had to establish Sports Day to encourage their own to move.
Qatari hobbies include automobiles and falconry. They vibrate with the formula 1 and the hawks, the balls are not so good for them and that they have allocated a good pinch of millions in the QSL Qatar Stars League, with star signings of both players and coaches. But there are things that not even the checkbook can buy. Soccer is not going for them, perhaps the World Cup will remedy it.