Muscat – High ticket prices, long online forms and a lucky draw for final allotment of tickets are some of the reasons football fans in Oman are reluctant to plan a trip to Qatar for FIFA World Cup 2022 just as yet.
The price of tickets for group stage matches range between RO25 to RO80, while quarterfinal matches are priced RO75 to RO150.
Sultan Khalfan, a football fan, said, “I was unlucky in the lucky draw. I wanted three tickets for an Argentina match. I found the process very complicated and a wastage of time. There is a big online form to be filled. After spending so much time on it, my name did not come in the lottery.
“This is demotivating. FIFA must take special note of us; the cup is being held for the first time here in the region and we are all football crazy.”
He informed that the lucky draw is such that a winner cannot exchange it with someone else. “One of my close friends won two tickets for the Brazil versus Switzerland match on November 28, but he cannot give these or sell these to me as per the rules,” Khalfan said.
According to a football coach from Qatar, the objective of the draw is to give everyone a fair chance to see the matches. Coach Hanson K Joseph said, “If there was no lucky draw, any powerful family or company with financial clout could buy tickets in bulk, depriving others of an opportunity to attend the matches. The lucky draw was introduced to give a chance to all.”
High hotel rates during the World Cup have been another deterrent for football enthusiasts in Oman. “Flight tickets and hotels will be expensive during the tournament. It is better to see the matches on TV, though I know seeing a match live would be a great experience. I am not very keen on spending RO300 for a two-day trip for a 90-minute thrill,” said Syed al Balushi, a medical practitioner.
And while all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Oman, some countries are seeing a reemergence of cases, leading to concerns among some.
Vivek Verma, an accountant, said, “I am still scared about gatherings. In fact, I stay away from crowded places in Muscat. Even though I’m passionate about football, I’ll avoid the World Cup matches for this very reason. Life and health comes first. People from across the world will attend the matches. It makes sense to avoid crowds.”