Bermuda Post

Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

'It's hell': furious fans at Qatar World Cup slam costly, unfinished accommodation that 'still looks like a building site'

England fans arriving at the World Cup in Qatar have blasted the state of the accommodation provided for them in the Gulf state, in the latest controversy to rock the tournament - before it even begins.
England fans arriving at the World Cup in Qatar have blasted the state of the accommodation provided for them in the Gulf state, in the latest controversy to rock the tournament - before it even begins.

Furious supporters have shared photos and videos online of the cabins they are staying in - at £185 per night - ahead of the World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday.

Images show heaps of sand and rubble at the 'fan village', industrial machines left strewn around the site, and ripped up turf.

The Rawdat Al Jahhaniya fan village, where tens of thousands of England and Wales fans are staying, is also missing a promised cinema screen and tennis court.

A 'fitness centre' is actually just a few items of outdoor equipment, while the site is also marked by a giant crater.

Food will be served in a large tent, and a Starbucks van will also be on site.

The cabins themselves are fitted with tiny air conditioning units that do not cool the rooms properly and are too loud to keep on at night, fans said.

One supporter said in a video posted to TikTok: "This is what £185 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."

People variously compared the site to jail and quarantine.

Commenting on the video, one fan said: "Looks more like quarantine camp, while another added: "Bros paid money to go into quarantine."

"Kind of looks like a Swedish prison," a third said.

Another user said: "I've been on work locations in middle of nowhere with better conditions and they paid me."

Others even compared the conditions for fans in Qatar infamous Fyre Festival.

"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?" one person said.

Meanwhile the Times has reported accounts of two builders. who worked on the site, who called the accommodation "dreadful".

One said: "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."

"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".

Fears have also been raised of media freedom after a Qatari official threatened to smash the camera of a crew filming at the World Cup.

Danish journalist Rasmus Tandholdt posted a video of him and colleagues being harassed by security staff.

"Mr, you invited the whole world to come here, why can't we film? It's a public place." he says.

"This is our accreditation, we can film anywhere we want. No, no we don't need permits."

The official put his hand over the camera and threatens to break it. Mr Tandholdt said he later got an apology from the Qatari tournament organisers.

It comes after the sale of beer was banned in World Cup stadiums just 48 hours before the tournament was due to begin.

FIFA's U-turn follows intense pressure from Qatar's royal family to ban the sale of alcohol during the tournament. The sale of alcohol is usually strictly controlled in Qatar.

An official FIFA statement read: "Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar's FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.

"There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar's World Cup stadiums. Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.

"The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev's understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."

Qatar's hosting of the World Cup was already controversial because of its homophobic regime and treatment of migrant workers, thousands of whom are thought to have died while building the infrastructure for the tournament.
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