DOHA, Qatar — After Sheng Xie, a 33-year-old soccer fan from Vancouver, booked his flight to the World Cup, he went trying to find accommodations.
Using the official tournament website, he quickly settled on a comparatively inexpensive place called Fan Village. The room pictured looked functional and clean. There have been two twin beds, Wi-Fi, air con and a refrigerator, all for about $200 an evening.
He didn’t understand it was, essentially, inside a shipping container.
“What did I book?” Xie asked himself in recent weeks, as he began to see photos on social media of his accommodations under construction.
What he found when he arrived was a sea of colourful metal boxes, lined side by side in neat rows, lettered and numbered, stretching about so far as he could see. His container/trailer was one in all 1000’s rapidly arrange in a dust field near the airport. Employees said there have been 4,000 of them. A map at the doorway showed plans for greater than 7,500, plus a bit put aside for workers. It was like a one-story Lego town.
And down the well-lit acres of artificial turf laid atop the pebbly soil, past the large tent that serves as a dining hall and the large box that houses a food market, and all of the little boxes that sell food or coffee or pharmaceuticals or fan gear, and never removed from the outdoor gym and the soccer-field sized spaces where people can gather to observe soccer matches on an enormous screen, Xie found his room, in section E8, behind a metal door.
A Temporary Guide to the 2022 World Cup
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What’s the World Cup? The quadrennial event pits the very best national soccer teams against one another for the title of world champion. Here’s a primer to the 2022 men’s tournament:
Where is it being held? This yr’s host is Qatar, which in 2010 beat the US and Japan to win the proper to carry the tournament. Whether that was an honest competition stays in dispute.
When is it? The tournament opened on Nov. 20, when Qatar played Ecuador. Over the 2 weeks that follow, 4 games might be played on most days. The tournament ends with the ultimate on Dec. 18.
Is a winter World Cup normal? No. The World Cup normally takes place in July. But in 2015, FIFA concluded that the summer temperatures in Qatar might need unpleasant consequences and agreed to maneuver the tournament to the relatively bearable months of November and December.
What number of teams are competing? Thirty-two. Qatar qualified mechanically because the host, and after years of matches, the opposite 31 teams earned the proper to return and play. Meet the teams here.
How does the tournament work? The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of 4. Within the opening stage, each team plays all the opposite teams in its group once. The highest two finishers in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.
How can I watch the World Cup within the U.S.? The tournament might be broadcast on Fox and FS1 in English, and on Telemundo in Spanish. You’ll be able to livestream it on Peacock, or on streaming services that carry Fox and FS1. Here’s how you can watch every match.
When will the games happen? Qatar is three hours ahead of London, eight hours ahead of Recent York and 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Meaning there might be predawn kickoffs on the East Coast of the US for some games, and midafternoon starts for 10 p.m. games in Qatar.
Got more questions? We’ve got more answers here.
Inside, it looked identical to the image. The air con kept it cool enough and the Wifi worked. There have been two small windows to let in a bit light. He was relieved to know that the doors locked.
Tuesday night was his fifth night. Would he book it again?
Xie considered. He had just suggested that his chosen accommodations might provide a worthy template for housing the homeless in places like the US and Canada, hardly a powerful endorsement for a vacation setting.
“I’d probably say yes,” he said.
Qatar has a population of only about three million people, and fans from all over the world jamming into Doha’s World Cup stadiums for 4 games a day need to stay somewhere. Most found hotels, and Doha offers a bevy of fancy brands. Others booked spots on one in all a number of docked cruise ships brought in for the occasion.
For a lot of fans, though — particularly the more adventurous or frugal amongst them — the somewhere that they found is in a field that feels mostly like nowhere.
Qatar, in spite of everything, knows how you can construct massive swaths of utilitarian housing for temporary residents. The dusty outer reaches of Doha are crammed with sprawling neighborhoods not unlike this, with names like Asian Town and the Industrial Area, which might be everlasting encampments for the migrant staff who do a lot of the construction and repair work in Qatar. World Cup organizers appear to have employed the concept as an answer for fans.
Not all options were as boxy as an adequately appointed shipping container. At a more upscale fan village called Al Khor, situated a 40-minute drive north of central Doha near the beach, the concept is “Arabian camping.”
Visitors stay in canvas tents adorned with furniture, plumbing, televisions and a refrigerator. There’s a swimming pool, a restaurant, a group of pop-up shops and a “fun zone” with a big fire pit and big-screen televisions. Advertised prices this week were greater than $400 an evening.
On the lower end of the spectrum is Caravan City, a group of 1,000 boxy white trailers on wheels. Prices there began at about $115 per night.
However the way more common selection was containers, which organizers have deftly rebranded as “cabins.” They’re, essentially, pop-up trailer parks, soccer-themed campgrounds, and there are three of them around Doha.
The one called Free Zone, where Xie stayed, has a hushed vibe, in between low-flying planes coming out and in of the nearby airport, due in no small part to the shortage of alcohol on the premises. (Hotels are among the many few places in Qatar where the sale of alcohol is permitted.) There’s a kind of predominant street, a yellow-turf road that serves as a catwalk for a various mixture of soccer fans.
Toward the horizon, the yellow turf dead-ends right into a construction zone where, days into the tournament, heavy machinery was arranging still more containers. In the dead of night of Tuesday night, brigades of staff attached water and electricity, moved in furniture and cleaned the units for incoming guests.
When Xie arrived on Friday, he was one in all the primary to examine in. By Tuesday, the village was teeming and disorganized. The wait simply to examine in took hours. Electric carts brought in to shuttle people to their far-flung rooms — Xie said he had tipped the person who delivered him to temporary home a number of days ago — were parked with dead batteries.
Gihana Fava and Renan Almeida, engaged to marry next yr, arrived from Brazil. Like Xie, they booked the village without knowing quite what to anticipate, but the worth was right. Hotels in the middle of town were either booked or well above their budget, Almeida said.
After an extended flight (and a missed flight), they spent nearly three hours on Tuesday standing in a check-in line. Fava and Almeida finally got a key, got to a room and located that it was already occupied.
A recent room — literally — was found. It was at the sting of the event, though, way out at S4, removed from all the things. There have been twin beds, not the queen that that they had booked. Every little thing was coated in a discernible layer of dust. The cleaners had not reached their unit yet.
Fava expressed worry that another person is perhaps handed a incorrect key and are available into their unit in the midst of the night. Could they leave their belongings safely here after they went to games?
Someone knocked on the door. Fava and Almeida were certain it was one other guest, wrongly sent. However it was a employee, ensuring the refrigerator worked. It gave the impression to be functioning.
The 2 tried the shower. It sprayed a powerful stream of hot water. They smiled.
“I told Gihana that we must always lower our expectations, expect the worst,” Almeida said. “Since it’s not a hotel.”