World Cup: Fans celebrate as Budweiser bar opens in FanFest
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Confusion reigned as families with young children joined thousands waiting up to an hour for entry to the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha.
Concert-goers were held up in bottlenecks caused by crowd control measures and security checkpoints.
It led to hundreds of supporters leaping over barriers and a hedge to head for an alternative entrance after being put off by the queues.
Others were turned away because their official Qatari government passes were not accepted by the security staff.
Last night’s festival at the capital’s Al Bicca park was the first mass World Cup event and will be seen as a test for the organisers’ crowd control systems.
But one Wales fan told how some of her group had been turned away after queuing because they only had a paper version of the official Hayya card.
All visitors to Qatar have to apply for the pass before being allowed in and can carry a printed version or download an app.
But the Welsh fan, who did not want to be named, said: “It is an absolute shambles – it really is chaos.
“We queued for ages to get in and although we were all right, one of our friends didn’t have the app.
“We tried to sort it out with the security people but they refused to give in and three of our friends had to go home.”
The confusion came amid ongoing furore surrounding FIFA’s decision to award the tournament to the Gulf state.
As well as criticism of the host’s ban on homosexuality and its human rights record, doubts have been raised about Doha’s infrastructure.
It emerged yesterday one of the official “fan villages” still resembles a building site.
Abandoned forklift trucks and a digger could be seen at the Rawdat Al Jahhaniya base, alongside hundreds of sea containers supporters will sleep in. Workers were also struggling to complete a fan zone in Doha.
A Welsh fan, who asked not to be named, hit out at the £185-a-night accommodation in “shoebox” metal containers “with no air” at the base.
He said: “I probably would’ve paid double the money to come and see my country play.
“But really? Is this what they’re going to put us in – containers with no air, very little light and like a shoebox?
“There is no room to move or to store your luggage.A tiny table can just about hold a bowl of cornflakes.”
Visitors have also been hit by the searing heat and the prospect of paying £12 per pint for beer in licensed bars and restaurants.
FIFA’s last-minute decision to ban beer sales at matches after pressure from Qatar’s strict Muslim rulers has also left a nasty taste.
Fan Maurice Breuer said: “Where can we demand a refund for travel expenses and tickets, now that at the last moment we get told you can’t drink beer?”
Alex Bilbao, one of a 16-strong group of friends from Ecuador who spent £80,000 for tickets and accommodation, has also been angered by the alcohol ban.
The 28-year-old from Quito said: “It is unbelievable. It would be different if they made this decision six months ago before we bought all our tickets.
“We understand they have a different culture. Just letting the rich people in hospitality have a drink – that sucks as well.”
His friend Francisco Gonzales added: “With tickets and accommodation, it is about £5,000 each, that is a lot of money. We like to have a drink at a game, alcohol runs through our veins.”
Twin brothers Lavi and Saeed Hamid, both Iran fans, who are among 10 friends and family who spent £25,000 to come to the tournament, agreed.
Lavi said: “I can’t believe that we cannot get a drink. What a bad decision not to let fans have a drink before the game.”
But Melvyn Brooks, 61, from Leicester, who has not missed an England game in seven years, said: “I wouldn’t buy a beer in a stadium because I don’t like drinking out of plastic glasses.
“I am here for the duration and am not worried about getting a beer. There are plenty of places. I’ll try to go for happy hour when it is cheaper.”
Not all fans are upset by the World Cup so far.
Alan Mohammed, 39, from Greenford, west London, said at Last night’s festival that he was having a fantastic time with wife Luna, 35, and children Loay, 11 and Selina, eight.
“It will be such a fantastic experience for us all – particularly the children,” he said. “We have tickets for all the matches to the semi-final.
“We are very excited and very hopeful that England will do well. “Let’s hope they go all the way and get to the final.”
Scott Parkes and Sam Gillard, both 33, were the first England fans to get their hands on pints in the huge FanFest bar.
The friends from Winchester, Hampshire, queued for 35 minutes to get served.
Scott, a brewery manager, said: “It’s £11 a pint – I’m going to make sure I enjoy this.”
Sam, a teacher living IN QATAR, said: “It was worth the wait. Let’s hope it’s a great tournament.”
At the front of the queue was Argentina fan Danilo Antonello. The time to get served did not bother him in the slightest – and he was delighted with the end result.
The 37-year-old said: “I just wanted to be part of history. I’ve been here in Qatar for two days now. The beer tasted great!”
Meanwhile, Hamad International Airport in Doha was a sea of flags as supporters from 32 nations arrived for the tournament, which kicks off today when hosts Qatar play Ecuador .
Around 5,000 Britons – 3,000 England fans and 2,000 Wales supporters – are set to fly into Qatar, with crowds swelled by 120,000 expats.
One Three Lions supporter – Jaime Castillo, 33, a flight attendant – jetted in from Miami, Florida, in his Manchester United shirt.
He said: “I have tickets for all of the England group games. I think they will win the group.”
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