In Doha, we don’t have an Olympic torch, different sports being played at the same time or clean venues (game venues without advertising from sponsoring brands). But the World Cup in Qatar is very similar to the Olympic Games for a picturesque reason: never had a World Cup been played in such a restricted geographic area, practically in a single city.
In practice, what does this mean for those who come for tourism, play or activate sponsoring brands?
In practice, it’s a completely different experience.
For those who came to watch the games, it means the possibility of shortening their trip and, at the same time, being in more live games, taking advantage of the fact that the greatest distance between two stadiums is less than 70km. It is not uncommon to see fans watching more than one World Cup game a day, especially those who agree to the “gymkhana” of taking the crowded subway to the next game.
Speaking of queues, the fact of having all the fans of the 32 teams in just one city (little prepared for an event of this size) causes queues in restaurants, public transport, fan fests, etc. On the other hand, there are no queues at airports for internal flights. At most, a little more people for a day trip to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, for the more adventurous.
For those who came to play, being in a single city means having more time to rest between games, an argument that was “used” by FIFA to shorten the competition time and the interval between matches. It also means for the selections to stay in regular and luxurious hotels, but without the same privacy.
The lack of privacy, by the way, also applies to the training camps for a simple reason: they do not exist in the quantity required by the 32 teams, as was the norm in previous World Cups. Another peculiarity is to always remain in the same climate, something that Germany, for example, should prefer, instead of playing in the heat of Recife and then in Porto Alegre (in winter) in an interval of four days, as it did in 2014.
As for those who came to activate their brand, having practically a single headquarters means that investments are smaller, more concentrated and, why not, neat. At the central Fan Fest, there is a huge screen, huge areas for each sponsor and live shows every night. Dividing tickets between guests is simpler on the one hand, but arranging accommodation is even more difficult and expensive. Especially in the group stage, getting guests to attend programs in the city is a tough task, even for the most experienced organizers.
The fact is that this “Olympic” Cup should not be repeated in the next ones. In 2026, the three North American countries will be divided to host the inflated 48 teams, and the trend of more than one country hosting the Cup should continue in 2030 among candidates from South America or neighbors in Iberian Europe.
Perhaps in 2034 China will be able to host the Cup alone, but even if that happens, the country’s extensive territory will require all participants to travel internally to follow the preferred team. Anyway, Paris 2024 is already on the horizon with the best and worst of a unique city.