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Festivities end with FIFA World Cup final in Doha

In other destinations, celebrations lingered, says attendee

Sanjay Mandal | Published 23.12.22, 07:47 AM
Crowds at Souq Waqif, a marketplace in Doha, during the World Cup and (right) deserted a day after the final

Crowds at Souq Waqif, a marketplace in Doha, during the World Cup and (right) deserted a day after the final

A Kolkatan, who has been to several football World Cups, had stayed back in Qatar for two days after Argentina beat France to lift the Cup on December 18.

Arunava Kar, 47, who was in Brazil and Russia to watch the World Cup and had stayed back after the tournaments were over there, too, said in those countries, the festivities had lingered even after the tournament. But not in Doha.


Kar, who went with his son Abhinava, 15, to Doha on December 7 and returned to Kolkata on December 21, said a day after the World Cup final, festivities had ended in the Qatar capital.

“I saw giant LED screens, which were installed across parts of Doha for fans to watch the matches, being dismantled on December 19. The markets in the city, which were overcrowded with fans, suddenly looked deserted,” said Kar.

“My son and I went to Souq Waqif, a famous market in Doha, for dinner after the semi-final match. It was overcrowded even at 1am,” Kar said. “We had to stand in a queue for half an hour to eat and left around 2am.”

On December 19, a day after the final, they went to Souq Al Wakra, another market that was drawing thousands of tourists every day during the world cup.

“At 10pm, the market looked deserted. Most shops were closed. We decided to go to Souq Waqif for dinner and were apprehensive if we would get the coach service,” he said.

The authorities had arranged for free coach services to take football fans to different parts of the city. “We were told that the buses were fewer but were still running till December 22.”

At Souq Waqif, some shops were open around midnight and there was an abundance of seats at the eateries.

Kar and his son had stayed the first seven days at a tent in one of the fan villages. For the last seven days, they had checked into an apartment at a residential complex, Barwa Barahat Al Janoub in Al Wakra.

“Every evening, we would see fans, mostly from Argentina, playing football. They would enjoy barbecue, play the guitar, sing and also have adda like the streets of Kolkata,” he said.

However, on December 19 morning, he saw many of them leaving with luggage for the airport. By noon, the huge complex, which has a shopping mall and an amphitheatre, bore a deserted look.

On the roads, Kar saw white tents, mostly facilitation counters and volunteer centres, being dismantled.

“It was as if Doha had no hangover of football and was going back to normal life immediately,” he said.

A night earlier, there were celebrations across the city in which locals along with Argentina fans, had taken part.

In Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018, too, Kar had stayed back for a few days after the tournament.

“At Copacabana in Rio, Brazil, or Kremlin Square in Moscow, I had seen many football fans celebrating a day after the final,” said Kar.

According to Kar, there could be two reasons for the contrast. “There are several restrictions in Qatar, which were not there in Brazil and Russia. So, many Argentina fans wanted to hurry back home to celebrate,” said Kar.

“Brazil and Russia are popular tourist destinations and so, many fans wanted to stay back and experience the places.”


Last updated on 23.12.22, 07:47 AM

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