Qatar has announced some rather questionable attendance figures following the opening games of the 2022 World Cup, as it’s clear that whoever’s done the totting up doesn’t understand maths.
The Gulf state confirmed their final attendance figures for the inaugural match between the host nation and winners Ecuador, professing that 67,372 people poured into the Al Bayt Stadium in Doha on Friday.
However, that would be quite an achievement considering the maximum capacity of 60,000. Hmmm…
Regardless of whatever Qatar are claiming to be their official numbers, it was clearly visible to anyone with eyes that thousands of seats were left empty during the game and even more so after half-time.
Countless numbers were seen flooding out of the stadium after the home side conceded two goals in the opening 31 minutes — well, three if you count the speculative offside call that saw Enner Valencia’s tournament-opening goal ruled out. He should have had a hat trick.
As if that wasn’t enough, Qatar also looked to have fudged the numbers for England‘s 6-1 win against Iran on Monday, stating that the total attendance was 45,334. However, once again, this clearly isn’t an accurate number given the stadium can only hold a max of 40,000.
In fact, it would seem that they’ve pretty much exceeded the stadium limit with every single match attendance so far:
Qatar vs Ecuador – 67,372 (Stadium capacity: 60,000)
England vs Iran – 45,334 (Stadium capacity: 40,000)
Senegal vs Netherlands – 41,721 (Stadium capacity: 40,000)
USA vs Wales – 43,418 (Stadium capacity: 40,000)
Despite a clear effort to stretch the truth when it comes to attendances, journalist Melissa Reddy also highlighted other fan struggles, telling Sky Sports that many fans could not access the stadium due to problems with the ticketing app and were being advised to arrive as early as four hours before kick-off.
As she went on to explain, the “mixed crowd” that did turn up – even if they were part of the mass exodus or not – “weren’t really interested” in the game and it was clear that many didn’t have an allegiance to either team.
Qatar has already been accused of paying ‘fake fans‘ to come and pose as supporters of various nations both inside the stadiums and parading outside the grounds.
While FIFA has denied the claims, with president Gianni Infantino suggesting that the allegations reflect the “racism” underlying much of the debate surrounding Qatar 2022, it’s clear
Featured Image — BBC Sport/Palácio do Planalto (via Flickr)
Morocco fans shut down the streets of Rusholme while celebrating remarkable win against Spain
Morocco fans living in Manchester were understandably ecstatic following their incredible win over Spain in the World Cup and their celebrations ended up spilling onto the streets of Rusholme.
The North African nation who currently sit as the world no. 22 in the FIFA ranking stunned almost everyone watching their round of 16 tie against Spain, who for many were considered among the favourites to win the tournament, as they beat them 3-0 on penalties.
After some serious heroics from the keeper commonly known as ‘Bono’, Spanish-born wingback Achraf Hakimi sealed the win with an audacious Panenka penalty to send Morocco into the quarters.
And this is how those on the streets of Rusholme reacted:
As you can see, large stretches of the Curry Mile were brought to a standstill as Morocco fans danced in the streets, sounding out chants and waving flags following their historic victory.
Besides beating the same team who smacked Costa Rica for seven just a couple of games prior, they also became the first Arab nation to ever make it to the final eight of the World Cup. Record-breakers.
Although the scenes were obviously joyous, the jubilation did lead to a series of impromptu roadblocks.
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott ‘working on plans’ to screen England vs France game at AO Arena gig
Paul Heaton has said that he’s ‘working on plans’ to screen the England vs France World Cup match ahead of his gig in Manchester this weekend.
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott are set to play a huge gig at the AO Arena this Saturday – clashing with England’s quarter finals game.
Paul has said that they understand fans ‘might prefer not to miss the youthful looks of Jack Grealish’.
His announcement that they are hoping to show the game has drawn a mixed reaction from fans.
Many welcomed the news that they wouldn’t have to miss the huge match from the Qatar World Cup.
But others said that it would ruin the show, with one person tweeting: “Please don’t ruin the show with that. I’ll be wanting my money back if I’m going to see football rather than the music!”
Paul replied to say: “We won’t. We just have to make sure the place isn’t half full.”
He has now gone on to address the divided opinions on the football being screened at the AO Arena, sharing a photo of himself pulling a silly face with the words: “Me trying to work out what to do next Saturday @England @AOArena.”
Many fans have pointed out that Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott aren’t actually due on stage until 9pm and that, all being well, the game will be over by then anyway.
Others have pleaded that they don’t cut the show short to fit it in around the England vs France game, and wondered what it would mean for Billy Bragg’s supporting slot.
Jacqui Abbott hasn’t been able to perform with the group for the last few shows due to ill health, but it’s hoped she’ll be back on stage with her former The Beautiful South bandmate by the time they gig in Manchester.
The duo offered refunds to anyone who no longer wanted to attend the concerts without Jacqui after she was told to sit them out on doctor’s orders.
But Paul added: “For those who choose to retain their tickets for the next three shows, I promise you that myself & the boys will put on a show to remember. We’ll sorely miss Jacqui but our intent is to make those who refund their tickets bitterly regret that decision. Thanks for your support.”
The pair were on the receiving end of a lot of praise from members of the public after announcing the tour, and capping ticket prices at £30.