Fans in last-minute scramble for precious Fifa World Cup tickets in Doha

Tickets selling for as much as Dh6,000 on the secondary market

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Football fans in Doha have spent the days since the Fifa World Cup quarter-finals searching for last-minute tickets for this week's semi-finals, with some being sold on the secondary market for as much as Dh6,000 ($1,600).

The search for tickets comes as only four matches remain in the 64-match tournament.

Croatia v Argentina on Tuesday night and France v Morocco on Wednesday will be followed by the third-place play-off on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

With Morocco the first African and Arab country to reach a World Cup semi-final, the search is ever more desperate for some. Tickets for Wednesday night are going for between Dh3,000 and Dh6,000, some fans have said.

I will keep searching around asking people, as I can’t afford to pay a large sum of money
Dario Gonzalo, Argentina fan

At Fifa’s official ticketing centre in central Doha on Monday, security guards and employees told dozens of fans that no tickets were available.

A guard outside the office told The National there had been “many people coming in the last two days asking for match tickets”.

"The centre hasn't offered any match tickets for the last two weeks but people still pouring into the centre," the security guard said.

It has become commonplace to see fans walking around the stadiums before matches with a note handwritten on a piece of cardboard saying: “I need a ticket.”

Dario Gonzalo, a 30-year-old Argentina fan, arrived at the centre on Monday hopeful of picking up a ticket for Tuesday's game.

“I couldn’t get a match ticket yet and the one in the market is about Dh2,800. They told me here in the ticketing centre that there are no tickets,” said Mr Gonzalo.

He was at the Argentina v Netherlands quarter-final and decided to stay on in Doha, despite not having a ticket for the semi-final against Croatia.

“I will keep searching around asking people, as I can’t afford to pay a large sum of money,” he said

Football fans from nations other than the four left in the competition were also in search of tickets.

“I know Brazil left the tournament but I want to enjoy the semi-final match between Morocco and France," said Lucas Miguel from Brazil.

"I have been searching for a match ticket with a reasonable price but things aren’t promising yet.

“The centre told me there are no tickets. It cost Dh3,000 minimum for France v Morocco which is being sold by a secondary market.”

Paul Liew, pictured with his wife, said he waited for four hours in an online queue for an Argentina v Croatia ticket. Ali Al Shouk / The National

Paul Liew, a 51-year-old Malaysian fan who travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Doha with his wife to watch the quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands, was searching for tickets for Tuesday and the final on Sunday.

“I have a ticket for Argentina v Croatia match but was looking if there were any more tickets for the final match or France v Morocco. It is my second World Cup after 2018,” Mr Liew said.

“I bought the ticket a while ago through the Fifa website. I waited for four hours in the online queue to get the ticket. As a big fan of Argentina, I might buy the final match ticket if they qualify.”

With fans allowed to enter Qatar without a ticket, many have travelled in the hope of getting one in Doha.

Hicham Hansali has a ticket for the Morocco v France semi-final. Ali Al Shouk / The National

Dubai resident Hicham Hansali, 48, flew to Qatar for the World Cup's opening stages and has stayed on since, following Morocco's incredible run to the semi-final.

He told The National that many fellow Moroccans have been calling him asking if he can get a ticket for Wednesday's match.

“I have a ticket for the Morocco match on Wednesday against France but many people are contacting me for tickets. A lot of Moroccan people arrived but without tickets,” Mr Hansali said.

Argentina fan Hassan Ali, 31, said he had visited the centre every day in the slim hope of being able to obtain a match ticket.

“I’m from Oman but I'm in love with Argentina. I spent hours on Fifa's online platform looking for tickets being resold by other fans but found nothing,” Mr Ali said.

"It must be that people choose to sell them outside the platform because they will make more profit."

Before the tournament started, tickets were sold in phases on a first-come, first-served basis through an online queuing system on the official Qatar World Cup website.

As early as July, Qatar's Justice Ministry warned that anyone who sells or exchanges tickets for the World Cup without permission from Fifa will face a fine of up to 250,000 riyals ($66,000).

Last month, three men were arrested in Qatar for reselling tickets in the week before the tournament started.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 4:52 PM