World Cup 2022: joy and worry of Wales fans ahead of Qatar

Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by

Fans say they are looking forward to watching Wales, but not all are going to Qatar, concerned about costs and human rights

In a month’s time, Wales will return to world football’s biggest stage for the first time in 64 years.

They will be one of 32 teams competing in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the first to be held in the Middle East.

Controversy has surrounded the tournament since the bid was won in 2010, and numerous questions have been raised about the game.

While many fans are excited, others have decided not to go due to moral reasons or cost.

Sharon Parker, from Merthyr Tydfil, has followed Wales for 30 years, watching them reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Now she’s getting ready to head to Qatar, but with the costs adding up before she and her husband even get on the plane, she’s worried about how much her trip to support the team will leave them out of pocket.

“I’d probably say we’ve already spent £13,000 for the two of us and we haven’t even left the house yet,” she said.

“This includes match tickets, accommodation and flights but does not include evening meals, beer or drinks.”

Sharon Parker and her husband Rob have traveled the world supporting Wales

She said she was likely to spend around £15,000 in total. Her husband Rob added that by the time Wales qualified, almost all the hotels were full.

“Some hotels were quoting £25,000 for a 10-night stay just for the room,” Mr Parker said.

“We remained patient and found a hotel in Doha. We will fly out the weekend before the first game and return after the England game.

“It hasn’t happened in 64 years, will it happen again in our lifetime? For us, not leaving was not an option.

“Wearing the Wales jersey with the dragon badge on the chest in the Middle East at the World Cup and seeing Gareth Bale leading the team is worth every penny.”

Rhian Davies, from Llansilin, Powys, is a dedicated member of the Red Wall and is going to Qatar with her friends, while her husband Bryn stays at home on the farm.

Rhian Davies with wife Brina and their daughters at Euro 2016

“The country’s attitude towards human rights, towards homosexuals and towards women is in the background. It worries you morally,” she said.

“But we hope that the world’s view of Qatar will change and develop those things.

“I am very glad that the man is coming as part of our group of friends, having spoken to people who have been there, he will make me feel safer.”

One website promoting tourism in Qatar advises visitors not to hug in public.

Rhian said she wasn’t sure what implications this would have for football fans.

“If Wales is doing well and maybe if I’ve had a drink, I know I’ll naturally want to hug everyone I see from Wales.

“It’s going to be weird for us, knowing they don’t allow public displays of affection.”

“We Welsh people like hugs and we like to sing”

Kevin Davies, from Caerphilly, has followed Wales on every away trip since 2006, but decided not to go to Qatar for ethical reasons.

“I’m not comfortable going because of the corruption and the regime around it,” he said.

“Money spoke when Qatar got the bid, I’ll watch the games but I’m not excited about it.

I almost want it to be a failure but I don’t want the fans to be disappointed, said Mr Davies, who said he was “really upset” about the tournament.

“Same-sex marriage, the way women are treated, the number of migrants who were killed building a stadium. I just don’t agree with that,” he said.

“I’m not critical of the fans for it to be their choice because it might never happen again.”

Kevin Davies has donated Caerphilly County shirts to a charity in Georgia on one of his many trips to support Wales

Paul Corkrey of the Football Supporters’ Association Cymru said it was “sad” that some fans could not afford or chose not to attend the World Cup.

He said announcements in recent weeks suggested a relaxation of Qatar’s rules, but he thought fans still needed more clarification on what would happen if they “break Qatari law”.

The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, and alcohol is only available in certain licensed premises.

Beer will be available outside the stadium but drinks can cost £15.

There will be official fan zones outside the pitch. The main one will be along the Corniche, where alcohol will be served from 18:30 to 01:00.

‘Reasonable in Cardiff but not in Qatar’

‘Reasonable in Cardiff but not Qatar’

'Reasonable in Cardiff but not Qatar'

“We are hearing from the Supreme Committee, people will be put in holding areas until they sober up and then returned to their accommodation,” Mr Corkrey said.

“So they’re not going to be draconian about it and lock people up and put them in jail for having too much to drink.”

He added that it was indicated that people would be able to hold hands in public and wear rainbow hats, but also that they had to be respectful.

“But then the official positions say it’s illegal. So we need clarity on this,” he added.

“It’s a bit worrying at the moment because the country is so far away that we have to be ready.

“Some of the laws they might break will be quite reasonable in Cardiff, but not in Qatar.”