I’m now on my third World Cup match in every week and, by the top of this match, I’ll fairly presumably be fitter and more healthy than Ronaldo. This is due to the distances I’ve walked round numerous stadiums to get to my transport and the quantity of non-alcoholic drinks consumed within the 30C warmth.
Having stated that, I view this as essentially the most spectacular, well-run and joyful competition of sport that I’ve attended – and that features three Olympic Games.
It helps that Qatar is the primary host nation to have all World Cup matches centred in and round one metropolis. Rather than being unfold throughout a big nation – the following match in 2026 takes place within the USA, Mexico and Canada – all supporters are centred in a single smaller space, which makes for a brilliant environment and a multicultural and extremely numerous expertise.
These are usually not phrases I often use to explain the group watching soccer at St Mary’s – my own residence floor and that of Southampton FC.
I can actually say that the sense of enthusiasm and basic friendliness that I’m discovering right here tops all different international sporting occasions in its unbridled pleasure, even within the warmth, even with out alcohol, on the grounds. Before arriving I had learn reviews of oppressive safety and tight controls in and round matches. But I’ve seen none of that and, frankly, the welcome I’ve acquired from the Qataris couldn’t have been extra open and effusive.
>> Also learn: Part I of Richard Steer’s World Cup diary
They actually need to present the world their greatest face and, as an unusual punter wanting to look at the world’s greatest soccer, I’d say they’re actually delivering.
That is to not underplay that they might have made it simpler to get out and in of the stadiums. I walked over 10,000 steps getting from the Metro cease and/or automotive park to Entrance P earlier than reaching my seat at my first match.
The matches have all had completely different atmospheres. The Wales v Iran match had 1000’s of Iranian supporters making an enormous noise, which drowned out the plucky however considerably subdued Welsh crowd, who have been a lot diminished by the top.
All the seats are within the shade and viewing web site traces have been actually good, so that you felt a part of the motion in the course of the match
The venue was the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, round 15 miles outdoors Doha. It was full at a forty five,032 capability and has an enormous media facade membrane on to which a sequence of photographs was projected in the course of the match.
All the seats are within the shade and viewing web site traces have been actually good, so that you felt a part of the motion in the course of the match.
The recreation itself ended with the Wales goalkeeper being despatched off and the staff dropping, however there was no sense of antagonism or any undercurrent of the nastiness usually related to soccer. I consider the alcohol ban has made for a happier, much less tense and extra civilised World Cup expertise and I say this as somebody who enjoys the odd alcoholic beverage throughout a recreation when watching the Saints at dwelling.
England v the USA was billed as an opportunity for our staff to construct on the 6-2 trouncing they gave the Iranians earlier within the week. It was to not be and – a bit just like the match itself – the sensation within the floor was one thing of an anti-climax.
There have been extra American supporters than English they usually had gone all-out with the flowery gown, purple white and blue. But one of many noticeable facets is that, since over 10,000 tickets can be found to non-partisan supporters for every recreation, there’s a giant contingent of the group who’re simply there to have an excellent time.
It was about watching good soccer somewhat than a celebration of tribalism
The Al Khor Al Bayt stadium was buzzing at kick-off and, by the top, a lot subdued, having seen a 0-0 draw. The venue was completely different from the Wales recreation in that it was greater, holding 60,000, and has a retractable roof.
The noise is sort of frankly deafening and the environment electrical. This didn’t come from the contingent of English followers, who numbered lower than 3,000, however from eclectic Brazilians, Polish, Saudi and Qatari followers themselves. They appear to be worshipping on the shrine of soccer and have been genuinely agnostic as as to if the USA beat England or the opposite approach round. It was about watching good soccer somewhat than a celebration of tribalism.
Sadly, the match didn’t mirror the thrilling environment. England had an off day and I left the bottom with a way of deflation on the soccer. But there was nonetheless the expectation that, by the point I returned to the lodge and a glass of chilled Burgundy, I’d have undertaken a mini-walking marathon and therefore felt a way of feat at finishing a critical post-match exercise looking for my automotive in a parking lot with at the least 30,000 different automobiles.
Richard Steer is chair of Gleeds Worldwide