How the tournament — with more than one million visitors expected to visit — will be secured also still has not been articulated. Qatar has signed policing agreements with several nations, notably Turkey, which in January said it would be providing more than 3,000 security personnel, including riot police, for a tournament in which fans of the 32 competing nations — some of them bitter rivals — will rub shoulders for weeks in an area smaller than the state of Connecticut.
Read More on the 2022 World Cup
- A Last-Minute Change: Only months before the tournament, FIFA is considering a request for the event to start one day earlier, allowing Qatar to be featured in the first match.
- Chile’s Failed Bid: The country’s soccer federation had argued Ecuador should be ejected from the tournament to the benefit of the Chilean team. FIFA disagreed.
- Golden Sunset: This year’s World Cup will most likely be the last for stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — a profound watershed for soccer.
- Senegalese Pride: Aliou Cissé, one of the best soccer coaches in Africa, has given Senegal a new sense of patriotism. Next up: the World Cup.
Unofficially, Qatari officials have said the imported security officers will not be in direct contact with fans. But so far — and unlike for previous World Cups — scant detail on that matter, and several others, has been publicly available. Asked two days ago for clarification on questions about several World Cup topics, Qatari officials have yet to respond.
There have also been concerns about accommodation, with delays in the release of rooms to the public and fans reporting a lack of availability on a portal reserved for ticket-holders, who are expected to be the only foreigners who will be allowed to enter Qatar during the monthlong World Cup. (This guidance, too, remains unclear as of this week.)
Those who have managed to find accommodations, which can only be booked after fans have paid for tickets, have complained about high prices even in the rare cases where they have found availability.
Ronan Evain, the executive director of Football Supporters Europe, an umbrella organization of fan groups, said the numbers of official fan groups traveling to Qatar to support European teams most likely will be significantly lower than for the last World Cup, which was held in Russia. The defending World Cup champion France, in one example, expects only 100 fans to attend as part of its official supporters group.
Other fan groups, Evain said, are considering flying in and out of Qatar for matches because they have concluded doing so would be cheaper, and easier, than staying in Qatar. Germany’s fan club has already said it will be commuting to games from Dubai. “I don’t think they realize how problematic their accommodation situation is,” Evain said. “The whole system to book accommodation is so unclear ticket-holders are reluctant to book.”