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1 day earlier than the beginning of the FIFA World Cup, Qatar is dealing with overcrowding within the fan zone

Authorities turned away hundreds of followers on Saturday night time from a live performance celebrating the World Cup, which begins on the second day in Qatar, exposing the challenges Doha faces because it tries to handle crowds at FIFA’s most compact event ever.

Dissatisfied followers turned away in giant numbers. Outdoors the venue, Qatari police, safety guards and others directed hundreds of individuals away with flashing fingers, bullhorns and flashing site visitors management batons.

However the overflow live performance comes earlier than the event’s anticipated 1.2 million followers arrive within the tiny nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

And with Qatar’s resolution on Friday to ban the sale of beer from event stadiums, fan zones such because the seaside Corniche that hosts the live performance would be the solely FIFA-related areas serving pints – which means extra followers shall be heading there.

“We all know it was what the police say right here,” mentioned a 30-year-old truck driver from Mumbai, who declined to provide his identify for concern of reprisals. He and his buddies had a uncommon alternative to stroll 6 kilometers from Hamad Port to Fan Zone.

Argentina followers are seen throughout the FIFA World Cup Fan Competition in Doha, Qatar on Saturday. (Marco Jurica/Reuters)

“We’re unhappy to go away as a result of it is too quickly,” he added. “There’s nothing we are able to do.”

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Supply and Legacy, which oversees the World Cup, didn’t instantly reply to questions on fan zones on Saturday night time.

Qatar’s inhabitants, house to three million folks, will develop because the competitors begins. The energy-rich nation, barely bigger than Jamaica, has spent $200 billion US on upgrades.

It consists of an in depth new underground metro system that may transport followers from the airport to matches. It has closed colleges for a month and urged residents to make money working from home.

The FIFA Fan Zone at Doha’s Al Bidda Park sees an enormous crowd on Saturday. (Molly Darlington/Reuters)

However reporters from the Related Press have glimpsed factors the place giant numbers of individuals may be gathered earlier than the competitors begins.

In Doha’s Souq Waqif, a serious vacationer vacation spot, an alleyway between outside eating places was packed shoulder-to-shoulder on Friday night time. Its nearest metro station noticed lengthy queues, some jostling and jostling between orderlies and prepare takers.

Saturday night time, nevertheless, began off fairly easily; Friday is a compulsory vacation for all employees within the nation. Fewer folks roamed the Corniche as the large firework show abruptly stopped, lighting up Doha’s glittering skyline for onlookers.

Drone shows and fireworks may be seen over Doha’s skyline on Saturday. (John Gambrell/The Related Press)

After 8 p.m., nevertheless, followers flocked to the fan zone, hoping to attend live shows by Lebanese singer Miriam Fares and Colombian singer Maluma. Whereas lots of squeezed contained in the pen, hundreds extra waited exterior the occasion.

At one exit, the gang tried to argue inside, with some spectators shifting previous the guards. At one entrance, a safety guard with a bullhorn implored the gang: “In your security, please return!”

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

Followers are seen throughout a live performance at Al Bidda Park on Saturday. (Molly Darlington/Reuters)

“I can’t hand over,” Awad mentioned. “I hope it will not be so crowded.”

Many overseas followers, conscious of Qatar’s restrictions on freedom of expression, have been cautious of criticizing the host nation. A gaggle of Saudi vacationers who expressed their dismay on the state of affairs later retracted their quote for concern of “politicizing” an AP reporter.

The Fan Zone at Al Bidda Park is planning different main live shows throughout the event. Nevertheless it has taken on new significance after Friday’s resolution to ban alcohol gross sales on the stadium: It is going to be one of many few locations exterior of resort bars and personal residences the place followers can drink whereas partying within the conservative Islamic nation.

Picture | Soccer followers get pleasure from a beer within the Fan Zone:

On Saturday night time, a fast set of calls to a number of bars in Doha’s West Bay, dotted with high-end accommodations, revealed that every one have been totally booked the night time earlier than the event, with fan zones closed.

The actual check begins Sunday, although, as Ecuador takes on Qatar within the opening match and the group stage is behind — together with the visiting crowd.

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