Last weekend, several hundred ticket-holders in Qatar were denied entry to the Emir Cup at Khalifa Stadium for reasons yet to be addressed by the event organizers.
Dr. Ahmed Al Mohannadi, the outspoken editor-in-chief of sports publication Doha Stadium Plus, denounced the turn of events as “pitiable” and “disgusting,” saying it detracts from the hard work put into the match.
In a recent editorial, he pointed out that this was not the first time paying fans were turned away at popular sporting events, as similar scenarios took place during last year’s Spain vs. Uruguay match and the 2011 Asian Football Confederation Final.
Al Mohannadi continued:
“I won’t raise the question ‘who’s to be blamed?’ For, we’ve been gleefully engaging in blame games after similar commotions many times in the past.
The security personnel are supposed to soak up moments of confusion, but many of them at the gates looked clueless and agitated. The Qatar Football Association may not be at direct fault. But if anyone points a finger at it being the guardian of the game in the country, we can’t blame him.”
There also appeared to be room for improvement in terms of the organization of the event inside the stadium. On his blog, Qatar resident Glen McKay, who attended the match, wrote:
“Because the stadium was full the concession stands were completely overwhelmed, at least in the area I was sitting in. Crowds three or four deep pushing and shoving trying to buy something at the counter. No order to it at all, no queue. Supplies of some things ran low, I wanted to buy some water but the concession stand had run out.”
The familiar outcome has prompted many residents to question Qatar’s preparedness to host the 2022 World Cup, one of the globe’s largest sporting events.
To keep organizational problems from recurring, Al Mohannadi advocates patience in planning, instead of opting to “find more joy in being the lords of our own fiefdom.”