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HomeWorld NewsDay Before FIFA World Cup, Qatar Faces Overcrowding Troubles

Day Before FIFA World Cup, Qatar Faces Overcrowding Troubles

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Authorities turned away 1000’s of followers Saturday night time from a live performance celebrating the World Cup starting the subsequent day in Qatar, revealing the challenges forward for Doha because it tries to handle crowds in FIFA’s most-compact event ever.

Dissatisfied followers took being turned away largely in stride. Exterior the venue, Qatari police, safety guards and others guided the 1000’s away with big foam fingers, bullhorns and blinking visitors management wands.

However the overflowing live performance comes earlier than the remainder of the 1.2 million followers anticipated on the event arrive on this tiny nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

And with Qatar deciding solely Friday to ban beer gross sales from event stadiums, fan zones just like the one on the corniche internet hosting the live performance would be the solely FIFA-associated space serving pints — which means extra followers might wind up there.

“We know that what the police say here goes,” mentioned a 30-year-old trucker from Mumbai, who declined to present his title for worry of reprisals. He and his associates had acquired a uncommon time without work from Hamad Port to stroll 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the fan zone earlier than being turned away.

“We’re sad to leave because it’s too early,” he added. “There’s nothing we can do.”

On this picture from video, Qatari police stand by on horseback as different safety officers attempt to management a crowd at a FIFA Fan Zone forward of the World Cup in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Authorities turned away 1000’s of followers Saturday night time from a live performance celebrating the World Cup starting the subsequent day in Qatar, revealing the challenges forward for Doha because it tries to handle crowds in FIFA’s most-compact event ever. (AP Photograph/Srdjan Nedeljkovic)

“The event reached its capacity of 40,000 people, … a sign of its success and popularity,” the committee mentioned.

Qatar, dwelling to three million folks, will see its inhabitants swell because the event begins. It has spent over $200 billion for enhancements throughout this energy-rich nation barely bigger than Jamaica.

That features a huge new underground metro system that may whisk followers from the airport to matches. It has even closed colleges for the month and urged residents to earn a living from home.

However AP journalists have seen pinch factors the place an awesome variety of folks may be bunched collectively even earlier than the event begins.

In Doha’s Souq Waqif, a significant vacationer vacation spot, a walkway between out of doors eating places shortly stuffed shoulder to shoulder Friday night time. Its close by metro station noticed lengthy traces, with some pushing and shoving between orderlies and people taking the prepare.

Fans crowd the FIFA Fan Festival site in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Authorities turned away thousands of fans Saturday night from a concert celebrating the World Cup beginning the next day in Qatar, showing the challenges ahead for Doha as it tries to manage crowds in FIFA's most-compact tournament ever. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Followers crowd the FIFA Fan Competition website in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Authorities turned away 1000’s of followers Saturday night time from a live performance celebrating the World Cup starting the subsequent day in Qatar, exhibiting the challenges forward for Doha because it tries to handle crowds in FIFA’s most-compact event ever. (AP Photograph/Jon Gambrell)

Saturday night time, nonetheless, began a lot smoother as Friday is the obligatory time without work for all staff within the nation. Fewer folks stolled the corniche as an enormous fireworks present immediately went off, illuminating Doha’s glittering skyline to awed passersby.

At one exit, the group tried to argue its means inside, with a number of spectators slipping previous guards. At an entrance, one safety guard with a bullhorn pleaded with the group: “For your safety, please go back!”

AP journalists noticed police on horseback at one level within the fan holding space, in addition to one armored police car parked exterior close by. Some attendees jumped over boundaries and Qatari police at one level held again the group.

Nonetheless, some guests stayed and waited, hoping for an opportunity to get in, like Ayman Awad, a geologist who flew to Qatar on Saturday from Sudan.

“I won’t give up,” Awad mentioned. “I hope it doesn’t stay this crowded.”

Many international followers, conscious of Qatar’s restrictions on free speech, have been cautious of criticizing the host nation as they waited. A bunch of Saudi vacationers who expressed disappointment on the scenario to an AP journalist later retracted their quotes for worry of wading into “politics.”

The Fan Zone at Al Bidda Park plans different main live shows as effectively through the event. Nevertheless it has taken on new prominence after Friday’s determination to ban alcohol gross sales at stadiums: Will probably be one of many few locations exterior of lodge bars and personal residences the place followers can have a drink whereas partying on this conservative Islamic nation.

But the actual take a look at will start Sunday, as Ecuador faces Qatar within the opening match and the group stage follows behind — with the crowds to come back.

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