2022 Fifa World Cup: Qatar crowds show 17,000 fans have disappeared


Davy Klaassen celebrates scoring the Netherlands’ second goal against Senegal. Photo / Getty

Qatar has some explaining to do after thousands of fans appear to be missing from its official crowd numbers at the World Cup.

Rumours and conspiracy theories have swirled around the number of fans attending the tournament – and photos taken from the opening ceremony and Tuesday morning’s matches throw fuel on the fire.

In the four matches played so far this tournament the official crowds for all matches were listed to be well above the official capacity for each of the venues.

Photos taken of grandstands during the middle of matches have also shown thousands of missing fans.

The official crowds announced for the four matches have been:

— Qatar vs Ecuador – 67,372 – official capacity of Al Bayt Stadium is 60,000

— England vs Iran – 45,334 – official capacity of Khalifa International Stadium is 40,000

— Netherlands vs Senegal – 41,721 – official capacity of Al Thumama Stadium is 40,000

— USA vs Wales – 43,418 – official capacity of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is 40,000

It shows a staggering number of 17,845 have squeezed into stadiums they are not supposed to fit inside.

No explanation has been given for the discrepancies.

Photos taken from the Netherlands’ 2-0 win over Senegal were particularly eye-catching with the Netherlands celebrating a late goal with entire sections of the stadium appearing vacant.

The Sun reports the announcement that 41,721 spectators had attended the game had fans chuckling on social media.

It comes after the embarrassing sight of Qatari fans walking out during the second half of the team’s loss to Ecuador, leaving sections of the grandstands looking grim.

Partly empty seats during the World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador. Photo / AP
Partly empty seats during the World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador. Photo / AP

Qatar became the first host nation to lose its World Cup opener in the 92-year history of the tournament.

The country has spent a reported $356 billion to stage the tournament, including $10 billion on its eight stadiums and a further $54 billion on a rail transport network to connect them all.

It has only given air to previous speculation Qatar has paid “fake fans” to make public displays of support for various national teams.

Video captured in Qatar in the days leading up to the opening ceremony showed groups of so-called supporters gathering in public to cheer on their team. Cynical commentators have suggested the displays were not exactly convincing.

The tournament has stated more than one million fans from around the globe will visit Qatar during the tournament.

At least some of those fans have been having a tough time in the Gulf state, with accommodation nightmares and alcohol bans.

Austrian manager and former Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick said what many across the world are thinking when he spoke following his team’s win over Italy. Nether of those teams qualified for the 2022 World Cup finals.

“We want to qualify for both the Euros in Germany as well as the World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico,” he said.

“These are wonderful destinations, also with real fans with atmosphere — unlike now.

“You don’t need to buy fans for anyone to support you, they are automatically there already.”



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