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Fan View: 2022 World Cup in Qatar - A recipe for logistical success!

1:39 PM MYT 22/12/2022
Stadium 974

By Sooraj Kamath

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar can be best described as a month of football mayhem, nothing short of a carnival, celebrated by thousands of fans from different cultural backgrounds who live and breathe football. A match day in Qatar during a football World Cup is much more than just a couple of matches in the evening. It was a 24-hour experience that started with the fans gearing up at Souq Waqif and ended with chants of ecstasy in the Metro tram after the game.

After Russia in 2018, the World Cup arrived at Qatar, a country that is 1000 times smaller in area. The fact that the stadiums were so closely packed, located within an hour's distance of each other, could have been a logistical boon or bane, depending on how the organisers handled it. As a fan who visited six of the eight stadiums, I can say, with great optimism of approval from fellow fans, that the organizers did an amazing job.

The eight stadiums were spread across with a centroid in Doha, well connected by the metro trams and stadium buses. The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor - where the opening ceremony was held - was furthest from the city centre. At the other end, we had the Al Janoub stadium in Al Wakrah, with just 68 kilometres separating the two. Clearly, all fan festival venues, fan hubs, stadiums and everything football was covered within a radius of just 35 kilometres.

A chunk of the 3 million population of the country and close to 1.5 million fans who travelled to Qatar were contained in this compact area, amplifying the footballing atmosphere in the capital city. Whether you took the metro tram from the fan cluster in Al Janoub, walked down the footballing strip at Corniche, had a ball at the fan festival in Al Bidda park or cheered for your favourite team at the Lusail Stadium, you were reminded that you are at the epicentre of a footballing festival every minute of the day.

But how did the organisers manage the logistics? An efficient metro tram system, well connected bus hubs and some smart mechanisms to force some of the logistical load on the fans. Almost each of the eight stadiums was in the vicinity of a metro station, with metro trains running at a frequency of close to 3 minutes during peak hours.

Additionally, there were bus hubs in some of the key regions of the city - the fan accommodation clusters, the fan festival grounds, the metro stations, Souq Waqif (marketplace) and so on. The buses lined up, one after the other, regardless of the time of the day or the occupancy percentage. As a fan, at no point during my time there have I had to wait for more than five minutes at a metro station or a bus hub that led to the stadium on a match day. No matter where you were, you would be able to reach the stadium on time even if you depart with just over an hour until kick-off. This meant that watching consecutive games in different stadiums was a logistic possibility.

The prompt transport logistics was complemented with smart crowd management at the venues where the fans had to cover large distances by foot. It ensured there were no bottlenecks and practically no chance of a stampede.

The compact nature of the entire tournament hence meant more savings on travel (time, effort and monetary) from the fans’ perspective. From the organizers' perspective, the resource allocation was simpler, fuel consumed on transportation was reduced, bandwidth taken by transportation of resources was manageable. As for the players, there was no need for air travels or overnight journeys that could hamper their recovery between games. Unlike the World Cup that preceded this one, or the one that will follow, the players, fans and organisers alike did not have to play jump rope with different time zones.

Has Qatar provided a blueprint on efficient logistics for a compact hosting of World Cups? Will we see more of this in the future, given it was practically a win-win for all stakeholders?