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SPORTS | 25-08-2022 13:23

Messi's Argentina prove top draw at World Cup, says Qatar 2022 official

Tickets for two Argentina games have been the top attractions for fans at this year's World Cup in Qatar, according to the tournament's chief organiser.

Tickets for two games featuring Lionel Messi's Argentina have been the top attractions for fans at this year's World Cup in Qatar, according to the tournament's chief organiser.

Argentina's first round group games against arch-rivals Mexico on November 26 and Saudi Arabia on November 22 were the "most requested" in ticket applications Nasser Al-Khater, CEO of the Qatar organising committee, told the QNA national news agency late Wednesday.

Both matches will be at the 80,000-capacity Lusail stadium, where the World Cup final will be staged on December 18.

The official did not give figures but the Argentina-Mexico match was sold out in the first round of online sales at the start of the year. 

FIFA said this month 2.45 million tickets have been sold for the first World Cup in an Arab nation, which Al-Khater promised would be "a great carnival."

There are 3.2 million tickets in total with more than one million going to sponsors and FIFA partners.

Argentina and Mexico have been named among the top ticket-buying countries along with Qatar, the United States, England, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Brazil and Germany.

Qatar has said it expects about 1.2 million visitors at the 32-nation event that starts November 20.

 

Saudi visas

Saudi Arabia will offer multiple-entry visas to fans at the Qatar World Cup, officials said on Thursday, as neighbouring Gulf countries look to reap benefits from the competition.

People with a Hayya Card, which is reserved for ticket-holders and used to access Qatar during the tournament, will be able to apply for the electronic visas, the foreign ministry said.

The move comes as Qatar, which has a population of 2.8 million, tries to accommodate an expected 1.2 million visitors during the November 20-December 18 World Cup, and as Saudi Arabia ramps up efforts to attract tourists.

"Holders of the visa will be able to enter and exit the Kingdom several times during the validity of their visa," the ministry said on Twitter.

Deeply conservative Saudi Arabia largely cut itself off from visitors for decades until it started issuing tourist visas in 2019, part of attempts to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

The Gulf power shares a land border with gas-rich Qatar, which is hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East and the first held in winter months.

The Saudi visas will be in effect 10 days before the start of the World Cup and will be valid for 60 days.

Given the pressure on accommodation in Qatar, Saudia, Kuwait Airways, flydubai and Oman Air will put on more than 160 daily shuttle flights to bring fans on day-trips for matches.

Qatari officials say more than 20,000 fans could arrive each day on shuttle flights from Gulf countries, some of which are offering special hotel packages.

Large numbers of Saudis will also flood across the border. Saudi Arabia's Group C clash with Argentina is one of the most in-demand games, according to Qatari organisers.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of being close to Iran and supporting extremist groups, accusations which Qatar denied. The diplomatic, trade and transport blockade was only lifted in January 2021.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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