Qatar sees India as a major fan base for FIFA World Cup 2022
- 2022 FIFA World Cup will start on November 21 in Doha.
- It will be the first football World Cup in the Middle East.
- 19,352 Indians saw the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and the Arab world, set to kick off next year on November 21, may see a huge number of Indian fans travelling to the host nation Qatar to see the action of football. The Qatar World Cup Organising Committee in fact sees Indian fans as their “major fan base” due to “proximity” between two countries.
"Because of the proximity, Indian fans will be a major fan base that will be travelling to Qatar," World Cup organising committee CEO Nasser al-Khater said on Saturday, reported Times of India.
In the FIFA World Cup 2018 held in Russia, 19,352 Indians saw the showpiece event, making the country among the top-five non-participating attendees with the United States and China leading the charts.
“Indian fan base is growing”
"We know, looking at numbers from 2010 (World Cup), 2014 and 2018, the number of Indian fan base at World Cup is growing more and more. Adding to that, and given the proximity, we expect to see a huge number of Indian fans coming to Qatar for the World Cup,” Nasser al-Khater added.
Though India never played the football World Cup, the country boasts of huge fans of the game. India’s bid to play the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar ended in the first round itself as they finished third behind hosts Qatar and second-placed Oman in Group E.
By the same time next year, Doha is expected to welcome more than a million fans. For the Gulf nation, the challenge will be to find accommodation as it is smaller in size which may see fans staying in neighbouring countries.
However, Al-Khater dismissed any such fears.
"We have made sure there is plentiful of accommodation and there is something available for all budgets," he said.
"The state of Qatar has taken the fans into consideration. The ultimate goal is to have a successful World Cup, and you can only have a successful World Cup when you have fans attending,” he added.
No flights between matches
Unlike most World Cups in the past which involved travelling in flights from one city to another, the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar does not require any travelling in flights between games. The next year’s World Cup also offers fans to attend more than one match during the group stage due to proximity between all eight stadiums.