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by Tony Attwood
A journalist from “L’Équipe,” the major French sports newspaper, reports that he was able to go into the England v Iran game without even having to show his ticket to anyone.
Of course, because the problem is a Fifa problem, and Fifa is controlled by, well, Fifa, and Fifa, as we know, will accept advice from absolutely no one, then no one is saying that much about it in terms of chaos and poor organisational systems. The local security troops turn out to be very good at watching out for players wearing the wrong wristbands, but not that good at checking tickets.
The piece in “L’Équipe” covering the story however went further and it says that at no time did anyone ask the reporter who walked in without a ticket, for a ticket.
“Frankly, it’s hard to believe,” the report in French says. “Sitting down without any worries, not one question asked… inside the Khalifa International Stadium,”
So how did he get past all the checks, all the security, all the bully-boys kicking out people for wearing the wrong coloured wristbands and everything else?
Apparently, the journalist got a tip-off from an English-speaking supporter wearing a traditional Moroccan costume. When asked for a ticket the journalist did exactly what had been suggested to him. He just waved his “Hayya” card, which is an entry permit that allows the bearer to be in Qatar.
Indeed there has been a lot of administrative chaos in Qatar, especially around the Khalifa stadium where supporters who were able to show perfectly valid tickets found that they were not able to get in because the admission app had crashed, making it impossible for anyone to check any tickets. The bigger problem however was that the smartphone app was the only way that one could enter the ground. Since no one admitted that any of the systems could ever go wrong, no backup system was built.
Now most of us who have worked with any kind of systems know that the first rule of IT is that it will, at some stage, break down. That is what it does. So what you do is build a secondary system – not as smart as the first system, and not as expensive, but good enough to get by with, if the main system goes belly up. It keeps things moving while the IT guys shout at each other. (And I say “guys” because this is Qatar)..
But did the Qatari authorities do this? Errr… well actually no they didn’t. So no one could find their place, no one could get through the gates and the authorised resale of ticket system also went down.
As a result, the doors to the stadium had to be opened and anyone with any type of ticket was just waved through and given a seat. Some people did get a ticket – it was written out by hand based on the information that the person at the entrance gave the ticket master.
Within minutes it is reported that a black market opened up and as a result when the official total number of people in the stadium was announced it turned out to be 45,334. Which sounds rather good for such a game surrounded by ticketing problems. Except that the capacity of Khalifa Stadium is 40,000. And a quick glance at the TV showed, what others in the stadium reported. There were a lot of empty seats…
Which also means, whatever attendance figures you hear announced, you can take them with a pinch of… , well…., sand.
Still it probably doesn’t matter too much. It was only the World Cup, and everything was all right really. We know that because Fifa told us
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