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Inside the grim World Cup fan zone which looks like giant concrete car park and charges England fans £12.50 A PINT

THEY promised something “huge” for the fans.

The “best Fifa Fan Festival in history”.

SunSport’s Martin Lipton visiting the fan zone ahead of the tournament
Fans face long queues to get inside
During the day the fan zone looks like a giant car park
A Greek salad will set fans back £9

Room for 40,000 supporters from across the globe to gather and watch the greatest show on earth.

But in a land where expectation and reality do not always match, and where it pays to cast some doubt on everything you are told, the truth of the vast concrete space in the heart of Doha was something different.

Yes, there is room enough for thousands, in front of a giant stage with a huge screen above it.

Giant images of Jude Bellingham and Spanish prodigy Pedri.

And yes, too, there are the promised food stands and “mega-immersive” and “multi-faceted” entertainment options. On paper.

But tell hundreds of English, Welsh and German fans they will have to queue up for an hour or more to pay nearly £12 a pop for a plastic cup of Budweiser, from the sole beer stand on site, and you have a recipe for problems, if not chaos.

Drinks are not served until 7pm local time
Food does not come cheap
Fans are restricted to “four Budweiser units per person”
The fan zone is in the centre of Doha

Especially when they can’t even get a drink at ALL until 7pm.

Or that they will pay a similar amount for a ropey paper plate of nachos with guacamole and an underwhelming chicken quesadilla, £9 for a Greek salad or £8 for a slice of pepperoni pizza.


At best, average.

And in temperatures likely to be in the low 90s Fahrenheit when gates open each lunchtime from Saturday, pretty grim.

Indeed, less a place for “celebration”.

In such roasting conditions, more like a place for incineration.

Since Germany 2006, the World Cup Fan Fests have been a place of fun and excitement, encapsulating the spirit of the tournament.

Even in Russia, where there was also the unofficial 24-party in Red Square, it was smiles, colour… and booze. Lots of it.

But not in Qatar, where those promises of beer and wine at not much than £7 a go have been turned into another desert mirage.

Instead, beer, yes. One brand. One measure. Half a litre. Budweiser.

But not until long after it’s dark.

There is a giant picture of England ace Jude Bellingham
SunSport counted 78 full fridges ready to serve drinks
There is one beer stand on-site
Getting some grub is a pricy affair

And NO wine OR spirits. Just that Bud and the zero alcohol alternative.

Crucially, too, the seeming guarantee of a long wait.

Fans, restricted to “four Budweiser units per person”, face an elongated snake – reminiscent of the arrivals lounge at Heathrow at the height of summer – to get to the serving desks, although SunSport counted 78 full fridges ready to serve just Anheuser Busch’s “finest”.

Then again, given the airport-style security screening just to get in – coins, belts, watches and even PENS set off the scanners – that was probably to be expected.

Make sure you go to the loo before you start to queue.

Or you might be REALLY uncomfortable.

To be fair to the Qatari organisers, it will look a great deal better in the dark and relative cool, with the lights on, fans excited by the games, and the “international, regional and local” musical acts on the big stage.

Mead Alemadi, the boss of the Fan Festival, said: “We’ve waited 12 years for this and we’re so happy to see all this happen.

“People here will be having fun, looking at live matches with the best view of the Doha skyline.

“We hope you all have the best possible time in Qatar.”

And Fifa’s “head of experiential marketing” Gerdine Lindhout added: “This will be the best place to be in Qatar when you are not at a stadium.”

If so, then the transformation will be a big one. It didn’t feel like an “amazing experience”. At all.

A beer will cost just under £12
Fans will pass through airport-style security screening to get inside the fan zone
The daytime heat is sweltering

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