World Cup 2022: Inside Qatar’s £175-a-night fan village

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

“It’s still under construction, in the daytime it’s kind of like hell in there. It’s the desert, it’s too hot.”

Surprisingly, as Shogo Nakashima delivers the scathing review of his home for the next two weeks, he has a smile on his face. One that says ‘if I don’t laugh, I might cry’.

“I cannot change where to stay right now so I have to accept it and wait for Japan’s match,” he said. “I’ll only be here for sleeping. I’ll go out and explore the city – I don’t want to stay here.”

The 31-year-old from Japan is one of the first people to arrive at Qetaifan Island Fan Village just north of Doha, where construction is still being carried out in some areas a few hours after the venue opens its gates.

The entrance to Qetaifan Island Fan Village
The entrance to Qetaifan Island Fan Village

Long before most guests arrive on site there are indications things may not be as expected.

On the long, winding drive towards the campsite there are audible and visual signs of heavy machinery. Construction cranes reach high into the sky and workmen are busy with jobs ranging from laying pavement stones to wiring lights.

And as you drive towards the reception area the Blok ‘N’ Mesh perimeter fence doesn’t exactly exude the ‘premium fan camp’ tag on the site’s official booking page.

There are 1,800 tents, each capable of housing two people.

Pedro and Fatima live in Spain but are here to cheer on Mexico. They got married in April and this trip is part of their honeymoon.

“It costs about £175 a night. To be honest it wasn’t what I expected. When you see the pictures and read the description – and it’s a Fifa World Cup – you expect a little bit of quality,” said Pedro.

“This is like a sub-par hostel that you can find backpacking across the world.

“It’s like being in a greenhouse, so we weren’t able to sleep past 9am even though we were exhausted because of the flight.” he added.

The tents, made of thick plastic, each contain two single beds and a nightstand with a lamp. A thin layer of carpet is lumpy in places as it rests on sand and gravel. A single electric fan completes the room layout.

Inside a tent at the fan village
Inside a tent at the fan village

“There’s no organisation whatsoever, no-one knows anything,” Fatima told BBC Sport.

“The stores are closed, there’s no drinking water. This is really, definitely, not what we paid for.”

As we walk around, everyone we speak to has similar thoughts.

For some the reality of the situation calls for more drastic action. Djamal, who has travelled from Paris, paid about £2,700 for a three-week stay at the fan village – but after less than 24 hours at the site he is packing his bags and heading for the exit.

“For me it’s not a good experience. There’s no shower gel, no toothbrush, no toothpaste.” he said.

Djamal also shared with us his booking confirmation sheet – and the fact he thought he was turning up to a hotel.

A France fan in the tent village
France supporter Djamal says the accommodation is “not a good experience”

One upside, albeit a small one, is the staff here are enthusiastic, helpful and always smiling. Even if at times they gave conflicting information, like where and when water could be purchased on site – and that a wristband would be needed to buy it.

A short walk from the fan village is the beach club fan park. It has a large screen which will show matches and where alcohol will be on sale. Apt, given the recent announcement to ban it in stadiums.

The beach club also shows signs that it won’t be completely finished in time for the big kick-off. Mounds of construction material are scattered around the site, and there is a constant beeping of moving vehicles and clanging of metal as structures are erected.

The beach club fan park near the fan village
The beach club fan park is a short walk from the fan village

Given all that, the staff here are clearly an optimistic bunch, and are quietly confident that the fan park will be ready. And with Qatar having spent £180bn on the World Cup, perhaps their ambitious plans cannot be questioned, even if how they have been carried out can.

However, the country was awarded football’s biggest competition in 2010, so any sudden rush to be ready does not bode well for fans who have travelled halfway across the world and spent thousands to be here.

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