When Qatar was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2010, soccer fans were quick to express (justified) skepticism about everything from the tiny Persian Gulf nation’s extreme heat to potential human rights violations. The decisions sparked such headlines as “14 Reasons the Qatar World Cup Is Going to Be a Disaster” and “6 Reasons Why the World Cup Should Be Taken Away from Qatar.”
Yet 12 years later — and with only two more spots left in the 36-team field, to be decided June 13-14 — FIFA reports that is has received 3 million ticket requests for the World Cup final. Demand is high for tickets to some of the biggest group-stage games, too. This is happening despite ticket prices increasing a reported 46% over the cost for international fans to attend the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow. The most expensive tickets, as of May 5, were going for more than $1,600 each.
According to the Associated Press:
There have been 2.5 million ticket requests [as of May 5] to see Argentina play Mexico on Nov. 26 at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, and 1.4 million fans hope to see England face the United States the previous day at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium.
Overall for the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament, there have been more than 2 million ticket requests from the U.S., England and Qatar after the second phase of sales. A random draw will be used to allocate tickets for matches where the demand exceeds capacity.
The significant number of ticket requests could reflect the desire to watch more than one match a day with fans looking to fill time between watching their own country by attending other games in a country where all stadiums are within an hour’s travel by public transport from the heart of Doha.
With all stadiums built around the capital, the tournament lacks the variety of tourist attractions compared to recent World Cups in Brazil and Russia. More than 23 million tickets request[s] have been received overall by FIFA.
World Cup matches will be played in eight stadiums within a 30-mile radius of Doha, which is Qatar’s capital and the country’s most populous city. As FrontOfficeSports.com noted, Qatar could surpass tickets sales for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which broke attendance records.
Qatar officials are hoping 1.2 million fans will attend the World Cup, but the question is: Where will those fans stay?
On May 5, inews.co.uk reported that “hotel aggregation websites show there is no availability to stay in Doha” the night of the World Cup final. “There is also no capacity for the nights of [Nov. 25-26], when Argentina face Mexico and England play USA. It is also not possible to book apartments, villas or onto cruise ships docking in Qatar on those dates on the official World Cup accommodation website.”
“Fans are encouraged to check the website regularly if the accommodation type they are looking for is not currently available,” a spokesperson from Qatar’s Supreme Committee, which is the World Cup organizer, told the website. “Fans can also book accommodation through traditional means, such as hotel and holiday accommodation websites. We anticipate a number of visiting fans will stay with friends or family during the tournament. We are also anticipating day-trippers who will make the most of Qatar’s strategic location and fly or drive in and out on the same day from neighboring countries.
Another option for travelers may be Airbnb, which is still showing availability. (And after all, the home-share platform was an absolute housing hero when it came to unlocking hotel rooms in Rio back in 2016. In fact, more than 120,000 people stayed in more than 18,000 Airbnb homes in Rio de Janeiro alone, generating $40 million for local residents. And for those who want to travel, there are ways to get to Qatar for points-savvy flyers.
This year’s World Cup also likely will be the most expensive in history, costing an estimated $220 billion. Compare that to the cost of the 2018 World Cup in Russia ($11.6 billion) and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil ($15 billion.)
“Costs associated with Qatar’s new stadiums have been reported in the range of $6.5 billion to $10 billion — a significant increase from the proposed $4 billion in the initial bid,” FrontOfficeSports.com reported. “But that still leaves roughly $210 billion to be accounted for. Much of the infrastructure costs attributed to the World Cup are part of the countries broader Qatar 2030 plan: to build an innovation hub with hotels, sophisticated underground transportation, stadiums and airports. While the World Cup has spurred these projects along, they’re largely investments for the long term.”
Meanwhile, FIFA launched an online platform earlier this month for event organizers who want to stage public viewing events of matches. The online tool allows applicants to submit information about the intended event to determine whether it requires a license. All fees FIFA collects from commercial public viewing event licenses will be donated to a charity of the association’s choice.
Brazil is the favorite to win its sixth World Cup title, according to 2022 World Cup odds from Caesars Sportsbook. France, England, Spain, Argentina and Germany are next in line. More interesting news? This will be the first men's World Cup where women will be included among the referees.