For fans around the world, going to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup promises to be a bit easier than going to Italy or Algeria. Between the lack of on-site accommodation, exorbitant prices, restrictions or even illegibility of the organization, following the Blues in the next World Cup is a challenge. Vice-president of the Irresistibles Français, and in charge of organizing the trips, Anne Costes tells the story of the tricolor fans, who should be twelve times less numerous in the Emirate than in Russia in 2018.
Interview with Adrien Hémard
Complicated, very complicated. Yesterday we organized a videoconference meeting with some of our 600 members, to explain to all the different elements. It’s so complicated that we could never have explained everything by email. We needed an exchange with the people, so that they understood all that. Because between ticketing, fan identification, transportation, on-site accommodation, travel agencies and the volunteer program, this World Cup is unreadable.
“Someone who will follow the competition completely, it’s 1,200 euros in tickets, or 12% more than in 2018.”
Let’s start with the box office, since it opens on Tuesday. What happen?
To give you an idea, on Thursday we had the FFF on the phone. They had just learned that the sales period had finally been shortened by ten days. And this, a few days before tickets go on sale, that is. We feel that FIFA is not well prepared for the event. But let’s move on. Another detail: the FFF is organizing its ticket sale on Saturday, which starts on Tuesday, I remember. Normally we should have a system that favors supporters’ association members for one or two days, which is good and better than the two hours we had for the European Championship. (Laughter.) Which obviously hadn’t worked. The problem is also the costs. FIFA talks about lowering the price, it is true for the first round. But since the quarterfinals, it is actually more expensive than in 2018, and the final is even 30% more expensive. Basically, someone who will follow the entire competition, it’s 1200 euros in tickets, or 12% more than in 2018.
You were mainly talking about hosting issues on the site. How’s it going ?
This is THE big drawback. On paper, FIFA opened a platform, good. Except you must have your tickets to the match in order to accommodate, otherwise you can’t book. So you have to get tickets for the matches without knowing if you will have accommodation. However, having accommodation conditions entry to Qatar. All knowing that tickets are non-refundable. So if you want to avoid making a France-Qatar return trip on the day of the match – which is not certain to be possible – you have to take a non-refundable ticket without knowing if you will have accommodation, which will allow us to enter the territory. The icing on the cake: you have to book a minimum number of nights, you can’t book just one night. Which makes no sense, as there is a lack of accommodation on site. Accommodation that would be refunded 80% in case of cancellation before April 30, but not after. And then you have to see the apartments in question… They are almost military installations, or villas or the famous cruise ships. The cheapest is a campsite that nothing is known about, with only a photo of a Quechua tent on a dune.
“For accommodation, the cheapest is a campsite that we know nothing about, with only a photo of a Quechua tent on a dune. »
All this to finally have to leave Qatar two days maximum after the elimination of his team…
Yes ! We learned on Thursday that the fan ID would be linked to the match ticket. We will have 48 to 72 hours after the last game to go out. What do we do if the plane tickets cannot be changed? In Russia, the fan ID was valid until the end of the competition. We are waiting for confirmation of that, because there he is looking for information, we did not find anything anywhere. I reviewed the frequently asked questions and the general conditions of sale to have information, because our emails remain unanswered. We even look for accommodation in the neighboring countries, but in fact, the Dubai-Doha flight will be very expensive. By car, it’s a 6-hour drive through Saudi Arabia, whose borders are closed with Qatar. In fact, during our meeting, all I did was deliver bad news. I must have pissed off a lot of people. It’s a shame because we are world champions and we will have very few fans there.
Is this the worst international competition you have had to manage?
Without a doubt. It is incomparable with previous editions. And again, if it was just about the prices… We started in 2014, we organized everything every time. Normally, each one takes their plane ticket, and we manage the accommodation. For the first time, I had to tell members that everyone has to fend for themselves, in the face of all these obstacles, you can’t take all these financial risks. Which means that for those who manage to come, they won’t be gathered at all. To give you an idea, in Russia we were 600, there if we are 50, it will be exceptional. I say “we”, but personally, I gave up. With all the controversies surrounding this World Cup, we could at least expect Qatar to be above reproach in terms of organization, but in reality they are not at all. It’s only for rich people. It is not a World Cup for fans, there will be no one. We will end up with Qataris with French flags.
“We were 600 in Russia, there if we are 50, it will be exceptional. I say “we”, but personally, I gave up. »
Do you consult with other foreign fan groups?
by the ESF (Football players from Europe), whose president is French, we have information from other federations, but for all of us it is the same, we are all in the same boat. Except the countries whose federations help the fans, like Mexico. In Europe, even the countries that helped, like Belgium, are in the same situation as us.
What do you expect from FIFA or the FFF?
We would like the FFF to help us more from the beginning. We’d like a charter flight to the big cartel in chickens now. But we never had one. They say they can’t put anything on because they have no idea how many people are going to come. It is the snake that bites its tail because we don’t get tickets because we don’t know how to stay there. As for FIFA, it does nothing. They don’t notice, or they don’t care. We discuss with the committee, we have the impression that they discover things at the last minute. It doesn’t seem as well managed as Russia. There we had free train rides between cities. Everything was spot on. And I’m not talking about the local customs that we respect, but that are not at all adapted to a World Cup: no alcohol, no displays of affection between adults in public, no clothes that are too short… We respect the local. culture, but it looks complicated and is also very poorly planned, which risks creating problems on the spot. Qatar is not ready to host a big tournament with millions of people.
“Qatar is not ready to host a big tournament with millions of people. »
Do you really think we could see Qatari fans wearing the colors of other countries?
That’s our theory, because that’s what we saw in the handball world championships. If there are only 200 people in the French stand, it will have to be filled with other local fans.
Interview with Adrien Hémard