The idea of Ecuador's Enner Valencia putting Qatar to the test seems to be a distant thought even ten minutes prior to the start of the first world cup in the Middle East.

Desert Rose, is one of the few restaurants showing the game in Doha’s Souq Waqif. Although their outdoor screens can be viewed from the pavement, security guards make sure that no one watches the game from there.

Moving along through the alleyways and squares there is little evidence to back up Qatar’s head coach, Félix Sánchez's claim that this will be “an extraordinary day like no other”.

The Bulgaria great Hristo Stoichkov brings a touch of World Cup authenticity by conducting an interview near a huge golden thumb.

At the Fifa Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park further up the Corniche, the scenes were more disturbing. Although the venue has a 40,000-person capacity, chaotic scenes have been present there every day since it opened. Before the game began, organizers permitted far too many supporters to access the venue. According to one source, twice as many people as the capacity attempted to enter. They were reportedly herded back out after being housed in a holding area.

In the midst of angry outbursts, police took nearly 45 minutes to remove the extra fans. Another problem for Fifa has somehow found a way to add to the controversy surrounding the competition.

Al Bidda Park, where Fifa sponsors such as Budweiser get to sell their wares, alcoholic or zero (taste), is the only option fans have to immerse themselves in the World Cup experience in Doha without any complications, to say the least. Many visitors arrived at their expensive hotels to find the price does not include access to watching matches on TV. The same goes for owners of private villas and apartments.

‘La Boca’ is another restaurant showing the World Cup opener in Souq Waqif. On the bustling Al Jazeera Street portion of the hour-long walk to the Souq, there is the occasional sight of Qataris embracing a moment of huge sporting significance for the Arab world.

According to Hassan, a Qatari local, “Whatever happens in the game, we have already won.” Qatar might say that was the point.

World Cup Qatar Carbon-Neutral Rep. Pic
Image. Photo credit: History Of Soccer/

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