Qatar’s handball team has defeated Germany 26-24 to advance to the semifinals of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship.
The win is a historic one for the national team, which has never advanced this far. The players were cheered on by more than 10,000 people inside a packed Lusail Multipurpose Hall tonight.
— Khalifa Al Haroon – Mr. Q (@iloveqatar) January 28, 2015
But the mood was less celebratory outside the hall, where at least hundreds of paid ticket-holders milled about in confusion after security guards barred entry to the match.
Several people who weren’t allowed into the game told Doha News they had arrived between 5:30pm and 6:30pm, heeding the time recommended on their tickets. The Qatar/Germany match began around 7pm.
But many were told by security personnel that the hall was already full. According to one fan, the match had been opened up to the public for free during the early afternoon, and a guard told her that her seats were taken by those who had lined up around 2pm.
Over the past two weeks, those who have attended the handball games in Doha have lauded organizers for how smoothly the matches proceeded.
But it appears in this instance, the desire to ensure a full stadium during a critical match trumped the need to ensure paid ticket-holders were granted access to their seats, fans said.
This is not the first time organizers of sporting events in Qatar have come under fire for poor organization.
In 2013, ticket-holders lamented being locked out of the Emir Cup finals, more than an hour before the match started.
Also that year, fans at the Spain vs. Uruguay match complained about slow security checks impeding their ability to get into the game.
Similar complaints ensued during the 2011 Asian Football Confederation Final, and the Emir Cup last year.
“Unfortunately it’s sad – we love to attend events organized in Qatar but this is a problem they need to solve,” said Kareem Sharawi, who has attended several handball matches and only ran into trouble for the first time with his seats tonight.
As crowds dissipated after tonight’s Qatar-Germany match, some fans said they were finally able to get into the hall to watch the upcoming Denmark vs. Spain match, which starts at 9pm.
Fans are also expected to turn out in droves tonight for the Jason Derulo concert, which will take place after the final match of the evening.
Here’s a roundup of Twitter reaction from disappointed fans:
Were you at the match tonight? Thoughts?