DOHA: Three quarters of the teams at the World Cup finals in Qatar will be based within a 10km radius of each other, FIFA said on Tuesday, announcing the hotels and training venues for the 32 national sides.
Unlike in previous tournaments, all teams will stay in the same hotel and use the same training base throughout the tournament — even carrying out their sessions the day before matches at their camps rather than the stadiums.
FIFA said 24 of the 32 teams are based within a short drive of each other close to the capital Doha.
“Players will have more time to train and rest during the competition, while being able to experience the excitement that will take over the country at much closer quarters, as fellow players and passionate fans from all 32 nations will be gathering in a single area,” said Colin Smith, FIFA’s Chief Operating Officer World Cup.
The tournament starts on Nov. 21 and runs until the final on Dec. 18 and is played at eight venues.
Teams will check in to their hotels and training camps at least five days before their first match.
FIFA said the accommodation “range from four- and five-star hotels to villas, resorts and non-hotel accommodation, including sports academy residences and school/university housing”
The layout is the opposite to that used in Russia four years ago, when teams were spread out across the European part of the country with some bases more than 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) apart and a heavy reliance on air travel to get to games.
Defending champions France will be at the Al Messila, a resort near Doha that boasts of its “private palace setting”. Villas can cost more than $2,500 a night.
Germany will be in the Zulal overlooking the Gulf that bills itself as the biggest wellness resort in the Middle East. Owned by Qatar’s ruling family, the resort’s royal suite costs more than $10,000 a night.
Manuel Neuer and his team-mates will be the furthest from Doha, a 100-kilometre (62-mile) drive to the capital. The resort advocates “traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine”.
Zulal general manager Daniele Vastolo said a lot of the teams had visited the resort because it allowed them to be “in a bubble” away from Doha’s crowds.
He added that security would also be easier as there is only one entrance.
“There will be no fans coming here bothering the guests or team to ask for photographs and autographs. So I think here they can really be isolated. “But at the same time if they have one day that they look for distractions, they can drive to Doha.”
Fans will get easier access to the Al Shamal Stadium nearby, the German training ground, which is styled on a fortress.
Belgium have chosen the Hilton Salwa on the opposite coast with its own private beach, a private water theme park, with slides and cliff jumps, and villas costing up to $7,000 a night.
It is a favoured weekend destination for rich families in the Gulf state that has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes.
England are in the Souq Al Wakra hotel, where authorities plan to close off a section of the nearby public beach for Harry Kane and the rest of the squad.
Brazil have chosen the city centre Westin near a main road, while the United States will be in the main district for expatriate residents.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina and former champions Spain have opted for “luxury” lodgings at Qatar University from where they can walk to their training ground.
More than one million fans are expected to visit Qatar for the tournament. Some will be in $2,000 a night hotels but many are expected to stay in cheaper portable cabins and desert camps.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2022