Qatar World Cup 2022: Qatar time difference to UK, cost of flights, can you drink alcohol, World Cup stadiums

Qatar will face Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands in their first ever appearance at a World Cup Finals - but there has been plenty of controversy ever since they were selected as tournament host over a decade ago.
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Australia were seen as a credible bidder as they looked to host the tournament for the first time and former hosts Japan, South Korea and the USA also registered their interest.

But to the surprise of many, Qatar came through the four rounds of voting to become the first Arab country to host the competition.

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The outcome also meant the Qatari national team will feature in the World Cup Finals for the first time just three years after winning the AFC Asia Cup for the first and only time in their history.

So what of this year’s hosts and their plans for the tournament? Can you drink alcohol in Qatar? How much do flights to Qatar cost? What are the World Cup stadiums? This information and more.

National World takes a look…

Where do the Qatari national team sit in the FIFA rankings?

Qatar sit between Paraguay and Mail in 51st place in the world rankings.  That is nine places lower than their previous best, which was set in August last year - but considerably higher than their lowest point of 113th, which was reached in November 2010.

Have they had any near misses in their previous attempts to reach the World Cup Finals?

Yes, they came close to reaching Italia 90 but were denied by the UAE and South Korea in the final stages of the qualifiers.

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Further heartbreak followed eight years later when a narrow defeat against Saudi Arabia in their final qualifier denied them a place at France 98 and a similar pattern followed when they missed out on the 2002 tournament after a defeat to China.

Have they had any notable former head coaches?

Tottenham Hotspur and Derby County legend Dave Mackay coached the Qatari national side between 1994 and 1995 and the well-travelled Philippe Troussier was in charge between 2003 and 2004.

The late Bruno Metsu - the man that led Senegal to a shock win against holders France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup - also took charge of Qatar for a three-year spell in 2008.

Who is their current head coach?

Former Barcelona youth coach Felix Sanchez is the man in charge of Qatar ahead of their historic first appearance at the finals.

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After working within the youth setup, Sanchez stepped up to replace Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati in 2017 and helped Qatar claim the 2019 AFC Asia Cup with a 3-1 win against Japan in the final.

They also competed in the Copa America that year and reached the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year before falling to a 1-0 defeat against the USA.

How has their recent form been?

Qatar’s preparations for the tournament continued with two friendlies against European opposition over the recent international break.

They earned a 2-1 home win against Bulgaria before battling to a goalless draw against Slovenia.

Who are their players to watch?

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All of Qatar’s current squad play their club football in their home country.

Winger Akram Afif is their most valuable player on the Transfermarkt website with the Al-Sadd SC star rated at around £3.7m.

Afif currently has 22 goals in 76 international appearances and counts former Arsenal star Santi Cazorla and former Swansea City forward Andre Ayew amongst his club team-mates.

What controversies have hit the headlines ahead of the tournament?

The Qatari World Cup bid has been hit with controversy ever since they were awarded the tournament back in 2011.

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Allegations of bribery were tabled by the FA’s Lord Tribesman and FIFA held an internal inquiry over the award.

Two FIFA members - Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner - were suspended following the allegations.

Qatari officials have denied all allegations.

Amnesty International have also hit out at “serious exploitation” of migrant workers as the stadiums around Water were being built.

The Guardian wrote that they had held an investigation that found “found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organization, during a building binge paving the way for 2022.”

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There have also been concerns over the welfare of LGBTQ+ supporters visiting Qatar as homosexuality is illegal in the country.

World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater said recently: “I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world — and they’ll all be welcome here.

“The safety and security of every single fan is of the utmost importance to us.

“There’s a lot of training going into security personnel to make sure that things that are culturally different are seen in that frame.”

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He also added: “Public displays of affection is frowned upon, it’s not part of our culture – but that goes across the board to everybody.”

What is the time difference to Qatar and what are the planned kick-off times?

Qatar are three hours ahead of the UK with the first two rounds of matches across the month-long tournament set to kick-off at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm on UK time.

The final round of group games and all knock-out fixtures will get underway at 3pm and 7pm (UK times) and the final will take place on Sunday 18th December with a 3pm kick-off.

How many stadiums will host World Cup fixtures?

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There are eight stadiums across five cities (Al Wakrah, Al Rayyan, Doha, Al Khor and Lusail) hosting games across the tournament.

They range from the 40,000 capacity Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah to the Lusail Iconic Stadium, which holds a capacity of 80,000.

What are the costs of travel and travel time to Qatar?

A flight from London to Doha lasts around six hours and 40 minutes and a return flight during the tournament is currently priced at around £1,109.

At present, proof of a Covid-19 vaccination or a five-day quarantine is required on arrival.

What is the population of Qatar?

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The population of Qatar is approximately 2.95 million and the most populous city is Doha, with around 1.5 million people currently residing there.

Can you consume alcohol during the tournament?

The current guidance says: “The consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam and is not part of local culture in Qatar.

“However, people who wish to enjoy a drink can find bars at some higher-end hotels and private clubs.

“Alcohol will also be available in designated Fifa fan zones and select areas in stadiums.”

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