Fans flying to the FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar can expect the fan village to be a £185-a-night unfinished shambles where local officials threaten to smash video cameras of unhappy supporters and stop journalists from filming.
With less than 24 hours until the World Cup kicks off with the opening ceremony and clash between the host nation and Ecuador in Doha at the Al Bayt Stadium, the fan villages still resemble construction sites.
Footage and images show piles of rubble and sand, ripped up turf and industrial machinery still on-site at the Rawdat Al Jahhaniya fan village, which will be home to thousands of England and Wales fans for the World Cup.
Alongside abandoned forklift trucks and a digger next to hundreds of sea containers, promised amenities like a cinema screen and tennis court are also not present, according to The Guardian.
The ‘fitness centre/gym’ appears to be a few pieces of outdoor equipment close to the main entrance and road of the fan village, which is managed by the operator Al Emadi.
The newspaper additionally reported that by the side of a tent, that will be used as a mosque during the tournament, is a giant crater, while a portable Starbucks van and a large tented dining hall will serve as catering for the hungry football fans.
Inside the cabins, which opened on Friday and costs £185 a night for a double cabin for two, tiny air-conditioning units are unable to cool the space during the day and rattle too loudly at night to be usable.
Those paying to stay in the Rawdat Al Jahhaniya accommodation, that will sleep as many as 60,000 people, can look forward to spartan interiors with either two single beds or a double bed, toilet, mini-fridge and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Ripped turf at a fan village in Qatar which look more like construction sites just hours before the tournament is set to commence
More than a million people are expected to descend on the small desert peninsula – with a population of just 300,000 excluding expats and migrant workers – over the course of the tournament, which will last almost a month from November 20 until December 18
Tiny beds and paper-thin walls greet those who chose to stay in the tent accommodation at the fan villages for the Qatar World Cup
‘This is what £185 [$330AUD] a night gets you in the Qatar World Cup fan village. Good luck getting any rest. The noise of the air conditioner [that doesn’t keep the container cool during the day] helps drown out the rest of the racket,’ one fan posted along with video footage on TikTok.
It is the latest black eye for the tournament which has already attracted complaints over cracks and holes inside stadium grounds and a last-minute backflip to ban beer from stadiums that left fans fuming.
More than a million people are expected to descend on the small desert peninsula – with a population of just 300,000 excluding expats and migrant workers – over the course of the tournament, which will last almost a month from November 20 until December 18.
The Times has also posted accounts of the fan accommodation from two contractors that were on-site and paid to put it all together.
‘It has been hell. The aircon in the cabin barely works and sounds like a (fighter jet) is taking off. Even if you have it on all the time during the day it is still 27C. You can’t have it on at night because it is so noisy,’ one said.
‘They are rock hard so you might as well sleep on the floor,’ he said. ‘I have never been somewhere so uncomfortable. We have been here for 10 days and it is a nightmare. It might be OK if you want to rough it for a night or two, but any longer would be dreadful.’
The latest images and footage of the accommodation awaiting fans that have spend thousands has many comparing the village to a detention centre.
‘Looks more like quarantine camp,’ one fan posted.
‘Bros paid money to go into quarantine,’ said another.
A Qatar official and security guard threaten to smash a camera belonging to an accredited media team. Qatar officials later apologised for the incident
Inside the cabins, which opened on Friday and costs £172 a night for a double cabin for two, tiny air-conditioning units are unable to cool the space during the day and rattle too loudly at night to be usable
Alongside abandoned forklift trucks and a digger next to hundreds of sea containers, promised amenities like a cinema screen and tennis court are also not present
Those paying to stay in the Rawdat Al Jahhaniya accommodation, that will sleep as many as 60,000 people, can look forward to spartan interiors with either two single beds or a double bed, toilet, mini-fridge and tea and coffee-making facilities
‘Kind of looks like a Swedish prison,’ added another.
‘I’ve been on work locations in middle of nowhere with better conditions and they paid me,’ a worker posted.
Others are already comparing the 2022 Qatar World Cup to the infamous Fyre Festival.
Fyre festival was a failed luxury music festival founded by con artist Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule.
Guests were promised A-list entertainment and luxury accommodation on a deserted island but none of it was delivered.
‘It took 5 yrs but they finally got the FYRE festival villas complete,’ one fan joked.
‘You got a porta cabin what more you want?’ said another, tongue firmly in cheek.
‘And you expected what? In what is essentially a desert,’ posted another.
While some fans are in for disappointment, other visitors have already found themselves on the wrong side of Qatar security.
Amenities in each cabin include tea- and coffee-making facilities, two bottles of water per day, a fridge, bed linen and bathroom towels
The newspaper reported that by the side of a tent, that will be used as a mosque during the tournament, is a giant crater, while a portable Starbucks van and a large tented dining hall will serve as catering for the hungry football fans
Is this the theatre that Qatar promised guests? Those looking to watch games will need to endure the searing desert sun
Danish international correspondent Rasmus Tantholdt posted footage online being harassed by Qatar officials and security.
He posted: ‘We now got an apology from Qatar International Media Office and from Qatar Supreme Commitee. This is what happened when we were broadcasting live’.
During the video Tantholdt switches between English and Danish as an official puts his hand over the camera lens.
‘Mr, you invited the whole world to come here, why can’t we film? It’s a public place,’ he asks.
‘This is our accreditation, we can film anywhere we want. No, no we don’t need permits.’
As the requests to move on turn to threats, he says: ‘You want to break the camera? OK let’s break the camera. You’re threatening us by smashing the camera’.
Elsewhere, Irish journalist Tony O’Donoghue was stopped by police while filming on Thursday, although he explained the incident stemmed from poor communication.
It comes as excited England fans were dreaming of bringing the World Cup home as they set off on their seven-hour flight to Doha.
Excited England fans were dreaming of bringing the World Cup home as they set off on their seven-hour flight to Doha. Pictured: Russell Dodds
Chris Bagnall, 61, a shop fitter from New Zealand, said: ‘It should be a great event. I’m a little disappointed they’ve changed the concessions of no alcohol in the stadiums at the last minute’
Proud supporters – many wearing the red and white colours of England – were in buoyant mood at the airport.
Chris Bagnall, 61, a shop fitter from New Zealand, said: ‘It should be a great event.
‘I’m a little disappointed they’ve changed the concessions of no alcohol in the stadiums at the last minute.’
Chris, originally from Barnsley, said: ‘I’m flying from Manchester because it was cheaper than flying from New Zealand, and I’ve been over here to visit my mum.
‘This will be my third World Cup. I went to Russia, which everyone said would be rubbish, but it was brilliant.
‘I’ve also been to Brazil. For me, every World Cup should be play there because there’s no better place than Copacabana Beach to have a beer and watch the football.
‘I’m meeting seven friend over there and we’re hoping that England do well.’
Richard Dennison, 52, from Worksop, has been to the World Cup in France and Brazil.
He said: ‘We have got conditional tickets all the way to the final if England manage to make it that far.
‘I hope they do but we’ll have to wait and see.
‘I would have preferred the World Cup not to be held in Qatar but that’s corrupt FIFA for you.
‘I thing England will make it to the semis before being knocked out.’
Richard Dennison, 52, an internet consultant from Worksop, said: ‘I have been following England around the world for years.
Richard Dennison, 52, from Worksop, has been to the World Cup in France and Brazil. He said: ‘We have got conditional tickets all the way to the final if England manage to make it that far’
Barry Hart, 42, was travelling to Doha, with his son, Nathan. The contracts manager, from Blackpool, said: ‘We have family who live out there so we are seeing football and the family’
‘My first was in Madrid in 1987, when England beat Spain 4-2 and Gary Lineker scored all four.
‘It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a beer ban in the stadium. It happens quite regularly elsewhere.
‘The World Cup is always a big tournament and I don’t see this being any different, when you get away from the politics.
‘England will get to the semi-finals before getting knocked out by Argentina.’
Barry Hart, 42, was travelling to Doha, with his son, Nathan.
The contracts manager, from Blackpool, said: ‘We have family who live out there so we are seeing football and the family.
‘We’ve got tickets for England’s group games and I’m confident we’ll win the group but after that, who knows?
‘We are out there for two weeks but if England do manage to reach the final, then I think I’ll be negotiating a second trip!’
Son Nathan, 13, added: ‘I am really excited and all my mates are really jealous that I’m going to the World Cup!
‘I don’t think we will win the group. I think we’ll finish second after the USA.
‘I don’t think we’ll get any further than the quarter finals and be beaten by the Netherlands.’
FIFA president Gianni Infantino BACKS Qatar World Cup stadium alcohol ban saying: ‘If for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer you will survive’ (after selling sponsorship rights to Budweiser for £63million)
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has lashed out at European critics of World Cup host Qatar after the state banned the sale of beer in its stadiums two days before the start of the competition.
Mr Infantino criticised those speaking out against Qatar’s human rights abuses and management of the World Cup and dismissed complaints over the alcohol ban.
Yesterday, the Qatari royal family demanded that no alcohol be sold inside stadiums at the competition despite FIFA’s £63 million sponsorship deal with Budweiser.
Alcohol is normally severely restricted in Qatar, with sales limited for tourists to some hotels and restaurants.
Fans arriving in the gulf state from around the world will now only be able to buy beer in ‘fan zones’ where a pint will cost £12 and supporters are restricted to just four drinks each to stop them from getting drunk.
Mr Infantino reacted furiously to a backlash from Europeans over the ban, suggesting fans should not complain about not being able to drink.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino attacked criticism of Qatar in a fiery press conference today
US football fan Brian Davidson became the first supporter to drink a beer in Qatar after queuing for two hours and paying £12 for a pint
He told a press conference: ‘Honestly, if this is the biggest issue we have for the World Cup, I will sign immediately, go to the beach and relax until the 18th of December.
‘Every decision we take at this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA.
‘I think personally if for three hours a day, you cannot drink a beer, you will survive.’
The FIFA president added: ‘What we Europeans have been doing for the past 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons to people.’
He said Qatar and capital city Doha will be ready to host the ‘best World Cup ever.’
‘Today I feel Qatari,’ Infantino said. ‘Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel a migrant worker.’
Infantino related the criticism to bullying and discrimination he said he experienced as a child of Italian parents who moved to work in Switzerland.
Qatar has banned the sale of alcohol inside its stadiums despite a multimillion pound sponsorship deal with Budweiser
He said European nations have closed their borders to immigrants who wanted to work there, whereas Qatar had offered opportunities to workers from India, Bangladesh and other southeast Asian nations through legal channels.
Migrant laborers who built Qatar’s World Cup stadiums often worked long hours under harsh conditions and were subjected to discrimination, wage theft and other abuses as their employers evaded accountability, London-based rights group Equidem said in a 75-page report released this month.
The Guardian previously reported that more than 6,500 migrant workers had died building Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure.
Under heavy international scrutiny, Qatar has enacted a number of labor reforms in recent years that have been praised by Equidem and other rights groups.
But advocates say abuses are still widespread and that workers have few avenues for redress.
Mr Infantino said: ‘What has been put on the table in the past few months is something quite incredible.’
EXCLUSIVE: This will be the best World Cup ever says 18-stone England superfan famous for stripping off in the crowd – even if he can’t get his belly out or drink beer at the games
An England fan weighing 18 stones and famous for watching matches with his top off says Qatar will still be the best World Cup ever, despite killjoy officials banning him from getting his belly out or drinking beer in the stadiums.
As hordes of excited Three Lions fans are heading to airports to jet out to Qatar for England’s opening match with Iran on Monday, tattooed Paul Gregory said he would be getting stuck into his last beer ‘for a while’ in the departure lounge.
Paul, affectionately known as Tango Man, said: ‘No drinking in the stadium or even near the stadium is a bit of a shocker. And Budweiser is one of the sponsors, so I thought we’d be safe on that score.
‘Fifa might be causing themselves problems with that decision because fans like to have a few beers before the game.
‘Now, rather than arriving at the stadium in good time, they’ll be leaving it to the last minute to get on the metro.’
Paul admitted he is ‘really disappointed’ after the Football Association told him the straight-laced hosts told him to keep his top on during games.
It’s a bitter irony for Paul, 59, that after exposing his torso in all weathers following Sheffield Wednesday and England, he is now banned from doing it at the hottest venue ever.
As hordes of excited Three Lions fans are heading to airports to jet out to Qatar for England’s opening match with Iran on Monday, tattooed Paul Gregory said he would be getting stuck into his last beer ‘for a while’ in the departure lounge
Paul admitted he is ‘really disappointed’ after the Football Association told him the straight-laced hosts told him to keep his top on during games
‘The FA asked the question,’ he said, ‘and they said “No”, so I will be wearing a bright, orange t-shirt instead.
‘I’m a bit gutted really. I am something of a talisman for the England team with my shirt off. Everyone recognises me and it has never caused a problem or caused offence to anyone. It is like a trademark and it will seem odd to be at a football match with my shirt on.
‘We’ll just have to see what the vibe is really like when we get there. People say all sorts but then in the heat of the moment who knows how it will go.’
Similarly, Paul’s girlfriend Rachel, 51, a lorry driver from Barnsley who shares his love of Sheffield Wednesday, will also have to observe previously unknown etiquettes in the Gulf Kingdom.
‘She’ll have to cover her shoulders and wear shorts down to her knee,’ he said. ‘She’ll be more affected than me because she likes the hot weather. I hate it. I like the cold, that’s why I always take my shirt off.’
Whether Paul will be able to keep to this rule under the pressure of an England match in 35-degree heat is yet be seen.
Sitting in a pair of shorts and flip-flops on a cold November day, he isn’t sure. ‘Who knows,’ he said.
Despite his hatred of the heat, the prospect of £13 pints in the fan zones and the concerns about Qatar as a venue, Paul said nothing was going to stop him from cheering on England.
‘Following England is what we do,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t matter the venue. I feel sorry for what has happened over there with regards to deaths of workers, but if England are playing then I’ll be there.
‘We have saved for three years for this. My partner and I put aside £100-a-month as an England kitty. We don’t go to the pub or to concerts and, yes, we are very privileged to be going but this is what we spend on.’
It’s a bitter irony for Paul, 59, that after exposing his torso in all weathers following Sheffield Wednesday and England, he is now banned from doing it at the hottest venue ever
Whether Paul will be able to keep to this rule under the pressure of an England match in 35-degree heat is yet be seen
Paul, who is covered with tattoos devoted to football and family, was dubbed Tango Man over 30 years ago while watching his beloved Sheffield Wednesday play Crystal Palace.
He recalled: ‘The Palace fans all started shouting, “You Fat B******d” at me and I was stood next to this lad who was twice my size.
‘He said, “Can you hear what they are saying to you?” which I thought was a cheek coming from him, but I just took my top off to help defuse the situation and then they started shouting “Tango” and it just stuck.’
Paul, a father of two, who has never been in trouble in all the years of following his country, first travelled to watch England at the World Cup in Spain in 1982.
‘It gave me the bug,’ he said. ‘All the rooms were triple booked and there were loads of us all thrown into rooms together.
‘England fans get a very bad press but it was like being part of a big family. Everyone supported different clubs but we all come together.’
Paul admits that fewer travelling England fans are travelling this time and they may be outnumbered by Iranians for the first match but he remains resolutely optimistic.
‘It’s a one-off,’ he said, ‘we’ll never have one at this time of year again so it just adds to the spice of it.
‘There was loads of negativity about Russia being the host and people saying we shouldn’t be going but that was the best one I have been to. It was absolutely fantastic.
Despite his hatred of the heat, the prospect of £13 pints in the fan zones and the concerns about Qatar as a venue, Paul said nothing was going to stop him from cheering on England
‘I’ll never forget us all drinking with the Russian fans in Red Square and going for a six or seven mile walk through all the backstreets of Moscow.
‘I hope this will be another one, billed as the worst World Cup ever, that will prove otherwise. I know it will be quieter without so many bars but you’ll always find somewhere.’
The cost is great, however, and the longer England last the more expensive it will become.
Paul said his tickets through to the Final, now stored on his phone under the Hayaa app, cost him £1308, his one-way flight, booked back in April, was £600 and their apartment for 10 days to cover the group stages, was £200-a-night.
But he is quick to defend Qatar against accusations that it is unusually expensive.
‘I have done my research and found that bars run a lot of 30 per cent off deals at certain times and a lot of the time ladies will drink for free,’ he said. ‘Plus all the transport is free and taxis are cheap so while some things will be more, other things will be less.
‘The food looks out of this world. I can’t wait.’
Paul has had a new tattoo done for this World Cup – three lions and an owl inked onto the inside of his forearm.
And he is confident that this could be the moment when England emerge triumphant and his hero Harry Kane ends up with his hands on the trophy.
‘Having watched them in Russia and then last year they are getting closer all the time,’ he said. ‘We have a lot of good players.
‘And I always like it when people are slagging England off as they are at the moment. That’s when England prove people wrong.
‘Their recent performances have been all about players not getting injured and don’t count for anything. I have great expectations. I just hope it doesn’t end in penalty disappointment again.’