​​Fans make World Cups. That’s a given, and was one of the big concerns when Qatar first won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup 12 years ago. How could a country with a population of less than 3 million people – many of them migrant labourers – create the ‘Festival of Football’ experienced at previous tournaments down the years?


There were initial concerns that no-one would want to visit Qatar for the World Cup. Why spend thousands of pounds on lacklustre accommodation at a tournament built by low-paid, badly-resourced labour, and where homosexuality is illegal?

Despite the scepticism, it’s expected that more than a million football fans from across the globe will file through Doha Airport and watch games in the infamous air-conditioned stadiums.

But how many people are actually going to attend the World Cup? RadioTimes.com has crunched the numbers to bring you everything you need to know about fans arriving for Qatar 2022...

For more World Cup features check out: World Cup 2022 TV schedule | World Cup 2022 kits ranked | World Cup 2022 stadiums | Best players at the World Cup

How many fans are at the World Cup?

There remains some uncertainty over the number of fans who will actually travel to the World Cup this winter. Issues around flight costs, accommodation scarcity, LGBTQ+ rights and alcohol consumption have made Qatar, for some, a prohibitive place to visit.

Some LGBTQ+ fans have already decided to boycott the tournament altogether.

Still, a World Cup will always draw supporters and Qatar’s airport infrastructure is bracing itself for an influx of people in mid-November. Most stadiums are within a 30-minute drive of Doha, with a huge fleet of shuttle buses aiming to transport fans to and from the venues.

Reuters also reports that Qatar Airways has pulled flights to 18 destinations at Hamad International Airport in order to free up space for incoming flights carrying 1.2 million World Cup fans.

The priority, according to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, is to accommodate football supporters. At its peak, there could be 500 shuttle flights a day coming into Qatar, plus private jets and charter flights.

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It is expected that thousands of fans will fly to the UAE, take a shuttle flight into Qatar for a match, and then head back to Abu Dhabi where accommodation is cheaper.

Number of World Cup tickets

FIFA claims it is close to selling 3 million World Cup tickets this winter – roughly the same as in South Africa and Brazil in 2010 and 2014 respectively. That’s a lot of spectators, and requires a national effort to ensure fans can get around the Gulf country safely and easily.

FIFA's World Cup COO Colin Smith revealed last month that the top 10 countries purchasing tickets are:

  • Qatar
  • United States
  • Saudi Arabia
  • England
  • Mexico
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Argentina
  • France
  • Brazil
  • Germany

Qatar’s stadiums have been built in rapid time so as to be ready for this World Cup – but they are on the whole smaller than previous tournaments. Eight stadiums are being used this winter, four of which are based in Doha.

The Lusail Stadium has an 80,000 capacity and scores of VIP boxes, which makes it the ideal venue for the World Cup final. The second biggest stadium in Qatar is the Al Bayt Stadium, which can hold 60,000 fans.

But after this, all six of the remaining stadiums have capacities between 40,000 and 45,000 – fairly small compared to Russia four years ago, and certainly not as many as England’s World Cup bid proposed 12 years ago.

World Cup tickets still on sale

“There is currently either low or no availability for matches,” Smith said last month, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still World Cup tickets on sale.

In particular, FIFA is trying to push their VIP and executive ticket offerings. Stadium lounges that provide alcoholic beverages cost as much as £30,000 ($34,300) for the semi-finals and final. Locals, meanwhile, can still get access to discounted World Cup tickets priced at just £9.50.

You can find out more about how to buy FIFA World Cup 2022 tickets here.

Qatar says it is planning to offer up as many as 30,000 rooms to coincide with last-minute ticket sales, so that fans who follow their teams deep into the tournament have a place to stay.

“This has been designed to ensure that all ticket holders have the best chance of securing accommodation,” said the director general of Qatar's World Cup organising committee, Yasir Al Jamal.

Check out our World Cup hub for all the latest from Qatar 2022, including match previews, predictions and analysis.

If you’re looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Sport hub.


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