Thousands flocked to attend the opening match of the World Cup – won 2-0 by Ecuador against Qatar – in the immense “Fan Festival”, the main Fifa Fan Zone located a few tens of meters from the Doha Corniche, and capable accommodate up to 40,000 people.
Accidents at the entrance and rescued people
Qatar jerseys on the back (for many Southeast Asian people, Qatar residents) and some foreign fan groups (Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Tunisia…), many were first asked to wait a long time to log in at the fence.
And for good reason, access was limited and very difficult. There were also crowd movements and overflows, with many men crowded together and eager to fight their way in, and extremely nervous security services, causing several disruptions among the crowds.
According to the health personnel present on the spot that we interviewed, dozens of people were treated medically, without any factor of severity. In addition, foreign law enforcement came to the rescue of an overwhelmed local security service, helping to search the ground before a definitive closure of the accesses and a return to calm after a few tens of minutes.
Beer at €13.30
Once there, the crowd gathered in front of the many giant screens on the site where the sponsors of Fifa (Coca-Cola, Visa, Qatar Airways, etc.) are clearly highlighted. All in a welcoming atmosphere, even silent despite the large crowd, not helped by the scenario of the match which saw the Ecuadorians immediately take the lead.
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The fans were able to console themselves with a beer (that of the official Fifa sponsor, Budweiser), freely sold in the enclosure, but at the price of 50 Riyals a pint (€13.30), the thirstiest thought twice times before sorting.
At the final whistle, the Fan Zone gradually emptied. The mood will no doubt lift over the next few matches, marking the entry into the race of favourites. Access conditions will have to improve and will be carefully examined in the next few days, in order to avoid further overflows.