A large official supporters’ village, which is expected to host dozens of England and Welsh supporters in the coming weeks, still looks like a building site less than 48 hours from kicking off the World Cup.
The Rawdat Al Jahhaniya accommodation base, in the shadow of the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium where Wales play the United States on Monday, had abandoned forklifts and a backhoe next to the hundreds of shipping containers that will accommodate supporters during the Guardian’s visit on Thursday and Friday. .
Remarkably, the site, which opened on Friday, costs £172 a night for a double cabin for two.
On the official website, Fifa lists a tennis court and a cinema screen among the facilities. There seemed to be no sign of either, though they might have been hidden in plain sight. Meanwhile, the promised ‘fitness center/gym’ seemed to consist of a few outdoor facilities close to the main entrance and the road.
There was a huge amount of sand and rubble, as well as a giant crater next to a tent that will serve as a mosque.
A site organizer insisted that security guards would patrol the area 24 hours a day. “Security will not be an issue,” he said. “There will be guards preventing people from entering.” These guards quickly intervened when reporters tried to take photos.
There is a portable Starbucks van and a large tented dining area, which will serve a range of dishes including pizzas and burgers. Amenities in each cabin include tea/coffee making facilities, two bottles of water per day, fridge, bed linen and towels.
The World Cup is expected to attract 1.2 million visitors, but in March Qatar had only 30,000 hotel rooms, 80% of which had been booked by Fifa for teams, officials and sponsors.
This sparked concern among fans and a rush for more accommodation to be made available – including shared rooms in empty apartments, a cruise ship off Doha and traditional-style tents in the desert.
Housing Rawdat Al Jahhaniya is not the only fan site that has been asked questions. On Thursday, The Times spoke to two contractors who had spent 10 days at Ras Bu Fontas, which will host 6,000 football fans a day, and raised their concerns.
One told the newspaper: “It’s been hell. The air conditioning in the cabin barely works and sounds like a [fighter jet] is taking off. Even if you have it on all the time during the day, it’s still 27°C. You can’t have it on at night because it’s so noisy.
The other describes the cabins, which contain two single beds, in unflattering terms. “They’re hard as a rock, so you might as well sleep on the floor,” he said. “I’ve never been in such an uncomfortable place. We’ve been here 10 days and it’s a nightmare. It might be fine if you want to spend a night or two roughing it, but more would be dreadful.
The Qatar organizing committee declined to comment when contacted by the Guardian.