And goodbye: 45 minutes of poor World Cup football by their own team were apparently enough for many viewers.  Photo: dpa/Robert Michael

And goodbye: 45 minutes of poor World Cup football by their own team were apparently enough for many viewers. Photo: dpa/Robert Michael

After the World Cup opening game, the football world rubbed its eyes in amazement: many spectators left the stadium at half-time. Instead of beautiful pictures, the world looked at empty bucket seats. Our local reporter is at a loss.

Imagine it’s the start of the World Cup – and everyone is running away. Something like that actually happened in the opening match on Sunday evening in the desert of Qatar. So, just for the record: The host’s national soccer team is playing the first World Cup game in its history. In your own country, the world is watching. And the spectators leave the stadium early. Not isolated and somehow, but in masses. Not just before the end, already at the break. In any case, there were countless gaps in the stands after the restart. In the end, the seats at the beautiful Al Buyt Stadium – located 30 north of Doha – were pretty, pretty empty. And what was happening on the beautiful lawn, the appearance of the Qataris, who were pitifully overwhelmed at World Cup level, against Ecuador seemed even more desolate than before.

All of this remotely reminded the observer from Germany of Corona times at home in the Bundesliga, when the capacity of the stadiums could only be partially used and the distances between the visitors were large. Here a group, there another, in between many unused bucket seats.

What happened on Sunday in the Al Bayt Stadium, which had a capacity of more than 60,000, looked very much like an escape. Those who remained seated back and in the arena wondered. Did the “refugees” lose interest in the World Cup so quickly, for which they had fought so hard and which they were said to have been so excited about, as the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, beamingly emphasized again before kick-off would have? It remained unclear why so many spectators fled so quickly and in such large numbers on Sunday.

It was nothing with the beautiful pictures

The strange exodus of viewers so shortly after the pompous opening show should not have tasted the responsible persons in Qatar and the organizers of Fifa. From their point of view, there were already enough negative headlines before the controversial tournament. With the start of the World Cup, beautiful pictures should finally be delivered. That was at the start, well, only partially successful. One thing is certain: it wasn’t the fault of the Ecuadorian fans. They stayed until the end and celebrated their team



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