Our Trip to the 2022 World Cup
With our return from the 2022 World Cup, we wanted to take some time to give our review of everything we experienced – top to bottom.
Before we do that, it’s important to understand that not everyone that attends the World Cup attends for the same reasons. Our main purpose was this: football. We wanted to get to as many games as possible and watch as many as we could when we weren’t attending. That includes having a few pints before and after matches.
And Qatar was EXPENSIVE. As we’ll detail, we wanted to get the full experience.
Let’s start with the sauce and put to bed any myths. Alcohol was easily accessible at hotels, restaurants and bars. There were tons of them. A pint of beer typically ranged from 50 – 70 Riyal depending on the location. That’s roughly $13-18 US Dollars for an almost always selection of Budweiser, Carlsberg, Heineken, Stella Artois, and Corona. You can get it in Qatar if you pay for it.
There was also a lot of talk leading into the tournament about not being allowed to be drunk in public. The prices likely deterred that from even happening.
As far as the stadium experience goes – we gave the Budweiser Zero a shot to get a cool souvenir cup. Otherwise, not worth it. The crowds certainly seemed tamer during the game and there was definitely not a ton of opposing fans going at each other that we saw. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not having beer available around the stadium definitely left something to be desired. We’ll get into that a bit more in the stadium section.
Alcohol was available for 3 hours before the match and 1 hour after the match in the Hospitality Villages at the stadiums. It had been reported that fans needed to pay $18k for access, but that is not true. The cheapest package was $950, which included a category 1 match ticket (a $250 value) in a prime location, the drinks outlined above, and unlimited food. Expensive, yes. Worth it… I guess it depends because there are also other considerations in the next section.
There were some really cool venues to watch the 2022 World Cup. This was our favorite, the Patio by Walima. 3 massive screens outdoors. There were both indoor and outdoor venues that were highly enjoyable and could be found all over Doha.
FIFA was not at all transparent with how this worked. There were 4 options for accommodation:
1. Stay in a Fan Village
2. Stay in an apartment complex in a neighborhood
3. Stay on a cruise ship
4. Stay in a hotel
FIFA did not release all of these options to the public at the same time. In fact, the hotels were barely released to the public at all. FIFA made the decision that they were going to pull the best hotels, of which there were absolutely not enough for the number of people that would attend, and only make them available to those who purchased hospitality packages. This was not transparent. Many people did not know that FIFA had done this and were constantly looking for accommodation on their website that would never come. Again, you can get it in Qatar if you pay for it.
We ended up purchasing a hospitality package for Serbia v Cameroon to get access to a hotel. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in West Bay, and we had zero regrets about getting it. The location was great, the accommodation was nice, and it served our purpose for the trip. All that would show up on the accommodation were unsold suites, hence the exorbitant prices and limited inventory for hotels.
Unless you went with a decent size group, the apartments also were not reasonably affordable. This of course led to a substantial number of visitors opting for the fan village as the only affordable option. The condition of those has been covered frequently.
There was simply not enough adequate accommodation for the number of visitors and the heat in Qatar. This was really disappointing for a lot of people and likely deterred people from attending.
An absolute mess. There’s no reason to have only 3 categories of tickets. You can be in the last row of the stadium or the first row of the stadium for tickets that cost the same price. It makes zero sense.
You could attempt to purchase or re-sell your tickets on the resale platform if you could get on. It was a running joke as we kept meeting people and showing them where our progress bar was in the queue. You had to be very persistent to get in.
We were able to upgrade our seats massively for the minimal resale fee to a number of matches after getting allocated not great seats. FIFA held a lot of good tickets back in the hopes of selling them as part of a hospitality package. When they ultimately ran out of time, they released massive batches of tickets each morning. If you were able to get on, upgrading was well worth it. I guess that’s a good thing? But if you didn’t know about it, you couldn’t take advantage and you frequently had to spend hours (virtually) in the queue.
I am very happy to no longer be spending any of my time on the resale platform.
FIFA also needs to go back to paper ticketing. Not only because people like having them to keep, but because it avoids things like what happened to us – for the Argentina v Poland game, our tickets magically disappeared and reappeared with worse seats in the ticketing app. We also got an email for another game that FIFA has the right to change your tickets at any time. That stuff sucks and there’s no reason for it.
In general this worked pretty well. Ubers and Taxis were relatively cheap. $15-20 was the maximum we paid to get anywhere in the city.
The metro was free. Buses were free. With the one exception of leaving the stadium (which we’ll get to), we really did not have much to dislike here.
We also have read some comments about taxi drivers giving people a hard time over money and begging for more. This happened to us once or twice, but it was certainly not the norm.
People Living in Qatar
This was very, very interesting. We did not try to uncover any secrets or have workers confide in us for a story. We simply asked various people we encountered one question: “do you like it here in Qatar?” Not a single person that we asked said they liked it. Not one. People looked exhausted working long hours. One person said they don’t like it but are glad they don’t have to worry as much financially. Despite the obvious strain, everyone was very friendly to us and we really enjoyed meeting people.
We also did not meet anyone from Qatar. Everyone working in Qatar has come from another country for a better opportunity to make money.
I can’t say at any point during the trip we ever felt unsafe. The security at the stadiums was difficult, but good. Considering how many people were there for arguably the world’s biggest sporting event, something should be said for this.
This was cool. Between being at the matches and meeting other people around Doha, it was very interesting to see who showed up and in what numbers. By far, the most we saw walking around were Argentina and Mexico. They were loud and visible throughout our entire trip.
Most other countries had some support. A decent amount of England and Brazil supporters were around, but we didn’t notice many other countries with support consistently.
As far as the stadium experience, the Morocco fans were wild. We found ourselves in a sea of Moroccans, and I think we were interviewed for predictions for maybe 5 separate Instagram Live videos. They were LOUD, and it makes a difference.
Stadiums and Experience
There was one massive positive about the 2022 World Cup. Having all 8 stadiums in a close proximity was awesome. Anyone could go to whatever game they wanted and not have to travel to a different city/accommodation. Of course, it will be difficult to do this again, but this was absolutely a massive win for Qatar.
For us, that’s essentially where the positives end. Yes, each of the 8 stadiums was beautiful. But, being brutally honest here, there was way too much walking and way too little in and around the stadium that wasn’t football.
Let’s start with the walking. We logged over 60 miles on foot in 9 days. All of the metro and taxi drop off points were unbelievably far from the stadium. FIFA needs to figure that out in the future. Not only was it grueling, the published schedule of walking time was not remotely accurate. This meant altering schedules, as you typically needed to get off the metro/taxi an hour before the match just to ensure you could get to your seat by kickoff.
People were continuously funneled into single entrances, made to walk in circles going the wrong direction, etc. Whatever the reason was for it, it made the fan experience horrible. Add to that you’re in scorching heat, and there was not a single match where people entered not uncomfortable from the heat, walking, and sweat. While we did not attend the Fan Festival, we’ve heard it was even worse. Whoever organized the routes, restricted areas, and plan did a horrible job. And when any of this was questioned out of sheer logic, workers were pushy. It was the most frustrating part of the trip.
As for the stadiums themselves, there was very minimal outside and around the stadium. There were a few concessions selling water and Coke. Some stadiums had stores that always had long lines and not an appropriate amount of merchandise. The supply of merchandise and the demand of what attendees would want were very misaligned. A few stadiums had some live music stages that very few seemed to be paying attention to.
Inside, there was even less. Some stadiums had extremely small merch stands with minimal team gear. Others didn’t even have that. There were the same concessions throughout with a couple snacks, Coke, water, and Bud Zero. That was it.
8 – Education City Stadium. There was nothing inside or outside the stadium to do, see, or buy. Excessive walking. The stadium itself is fine, but the experience was horrible.
7 – Lusail Stadium. For a stadium that is so raved about, it was an absolute nightmare. Built a 90,000 seat stadium but can’t figure out how to get people in or out without walking 3 miles out of the way. Like many others it’s a beautiful stadium to look at, but that’s it. The concourses were terrible.
6 – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. This one falls a bit short in the modern department but it was a cool stadium. Not as nice by comparison, but felt close to the action everywhere.
5 – Al Bayt Stadium. Beautiful stadium outside. Pretty well done inside. The walking was horrible. Not as bad as Lusail, but close.
4 – Khalifa International Stadium. Dinged because the seats are so far away from the pitch. But a really nice stadium that we enjoyed. Nice use of the outdoor space too.
3 – Al Thumama Stadium. Solid. Not too large. Blasting AC. Good sight lines everywhere. A good football ground.
2 – Al Janoub Stadium. Thought this stadium was just really cool, and not because of the frigid temperature of the AC. Lots of stuff outside walking around. Really nice concourses. Pleasantly surprised.
1 – Stadium 974. Such a unique stadium. It stands out on its own. Beautiful views from the exterior. We did cheat a bit and walk from nearby hotels, but it’s at least an option. We had fun at this one.
The main thing with Qatar is that you can really do as much as you want if you pay for it. This whole 2022 World Cup top to bottom felt like it was about nothing but money. Without a doubt, that was the intent.
But, we had a lot of fun. We met a lot of great people from around the world. The fans were phenomenal and being in the midst of Moroccans and Koreans as they qualified for the Knockout Stage was an unbelievable experience. We had good food and beverages throughout. And we saw some phenomenal football.
This is the World Cup after all, and the teams and players certainly delivered. The players and fans are passionate, and in the end, that’s what makes it.
We also worry how much was done just for the World Cup and what Qatar will look like after. Without the influx of people, many businesses seem they will be empty. It will be interesting to see what happens.
There was little that surprised us in Qatar. No narratives were changed. Qatar is what we thought it was. And surely, you’ll hear nothing from FIFA other than it was a resounding success. Are we happy we got to go to the World Cup in Qatar? Absolutely. Did we enjoy ourselves? 100%. Will we be going back to Qatar? Not likely.
If you’d like to browse our 2022 World Cup photos, you can check them out here