World Cup 2022: Hayya card issues leave football fans in limbo over travel to Qatar

Lack of updates means fans are unsure if they can travel for matches, despite having tickets for games

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Football fans were left venting their frustration after being unable to fly into Qatar for the World Cup despite having Hayya cards.

Anyone travelling to Qatar during the tournament must possess the mandatory document for World Cup players, officials, staff, media, ticket holders and their guests.

Organisers said applications for international fans should take five calendar days for preliminary approval, subject to photo and passport copy quality compliance, and up to an additional 24 hours for accommodation confirmation, depending on its type.

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We were even told to call Fifa in Switzerland for an update. They were very confused when we called them and that got us nowhere
David, football fan, Abu Dhabi

The card offers free metro and bus travel in Doha.

From December 2, fans without tickets will be allowed to enter Qatar but still need to apply for a Hayya card, it was announced this month.

Fears of losing everything

However, many are experiencing confusion and frustration over delays in processing the Hayya card application — despite holding valid match tickets.

“I bought a ticket to go to the England game against Wales earlier in the week but am still awaiting clearance to travel and it’s just over 24 hours away,” said Dubai resident Hughie Bigley, 60, who runs a furniture manufacturing company in the emirate.

“My accommodation has not been cleared on the Hayya system yet, which is absolutely insane.

“I am due to fly over on Friday afternoon, with the match later that evening, but if the clearance doesn’t come through then I will have lost absolutely everything.”

The Englishman said he paid Dh9,000 ($2,450) for the flights to and from Doha, which he is worried will be wasted money if official clearance does not come through in time.

“I have gone to two previous World Cups in Russia and Japan and there was never anything like this,” he said.

“It’s a complete contrast to how smoothly Dubai ran the Expo when they had millions of visitors with no such issues.”

Another UAE resident is also worried he will miss out on the game he bought tickets for weeks ago.

“My friend in Doha transferred me his ticket three weeks ago for the Iran-Wales game as his wife is pregnant,” said David, a lawyer in Abu Dhabi who did not want to give his full name.

“It all came through OK on the Fifa app — that was all very smooth — the problem came when I tried to apply for the Hayya mobile application I need to get into Qatar.

“I had an error message saying my ticket apportion number was not valid. I could not get past the first step and there was no explanation why it didn’t work.

“I called the Hayya help centre twice a day for a week before I could get any clarity on where the issue was.”

As his friend’s wife had started the Hayya application but left it incomplete, a block had been placed on any associated tickets.

David was unable to pair his ticket with a Hayya app until the initial application from his friend’s wife had been completed, and then cancelled.

“She could not cancel anything until she had completed her Hayya application,” said David.

“The Hayya portal would not let her change her application, which caused a problem and her photo was not clear enough and the system would not accept another photo.

“She eventually got an SMS to upload the required documents, but we heard nothing and we were in a death-loop of administration about whether we could book flights or not.

“We were even told to call Fifa in Switzerland for an update. They were very confused when we called them and that got us nowhere.

“Our emails were ghosted and we just had to keep calling and were kept on hold for ages.

“I’m sure there are lots of people in the same position who have bought tickets on the secondary market in good faith but will struggle to activate their tickets.”

Issues in Doha

Fans on the ground are also experiencing frustration with finding information about their tickets.

“The problem is that no one here speaks Spanish, in all the shops or restaurants,” said Jorge Silva from Buenos Aires, 47, who works for Fischer and is a member of the second division Racing Club in the Argentinian capital.

“There are lots of people here from Spanish-speaking countries who don’t speak English and they can’t explain themselves properly at the Hayya help desk.

“They should have at least three different language speakers at each desk.”

Mr Silva has a ticket for the Spain v Japan game on December 1.

“I had a problem with my ticket. I bought it from my friend and received an email with the ticket on it but it doesn’t appear on my app,” he said.

“It has disappeared. He doesn’t have it and neither do I, so I am in limbo.

“They said to come back to the resolution centre tomorrow to try to sort it out. I’m here in Doha until December 10, I flew here via Madrid from Buenos Aires.”

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Updated: November 25, 2022, 4:53 AM
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