A LUXURY liner to be used as Englandâs Wagsâ World Cup base was tonight steaming towards Qatar â but no players will be allowed on board.
MSC World Europaâs maiden voyage saw it inching through the Suez Canal yesterday.
The Â£1billion 205,700-tonne floating palace boasts six swimming pools, a 643ft promenade, 14 ocean-view whirlpools, 13 dining venues and more than 30 bars and cafes.
There is also an 11-deck high helter skelter called The Venom Drop â the tallest slide on any ship in the world.
The liner left a French shipyard nine days ago, where 2,000 workers put finishing touches to its posh interior.
Footballersâ wives and girlfriends are expected to be among 6,762 guests in 2,633 cabins. Five-star packages to stay on board while the vessel is docked off the coast of Doha cost up to Â£6,000.
But no players will be allowed on board. On arrival the England squad will be immediately placed in a strict Covid bubble at Dohaâs Souq Al Wakra hotel.
Boss Gareth Southgate is determined to stop the virus from wrecking his sideâs hopes.
Football Association sources confirm that the restrictions will be in place for the three opening group games â and almost certainly as long as England are in the tournament.
Organisers have said any player testing positive will have to isolate for five days and wear a mask for a further five. They will also be barred from training sessions.
Southgate is set to name his provisional squad next week.
The women will have plenty to keep them busy on board, with a spa and wellness centre, thermal baths, beauty salon and a gym.
And if they are feeling homesick they can pop into British pub Masters of the Sea for a glass of bubbly.
A source said: âDue to the fact the boat is off-shore, guests can have a drink and enjoy themselves without having to worry about falling foul of Qatar’s strict laws.
âThe boatâs an amazing place to stay, which is why many of the playersâ wives and families snapped up packages that the FA arranged.
âIf England do go all the way, itâs likely to become like a carnival on board.â
The FA declined to comment.
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