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World Cup officials target ‘price-gouging’ as 1.2m tickets sold

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The chief organizer of the World Cup in Qatar announced “record” demand on Wednesday with 1.2 million tickets sold, but acknowledged it was hard to stop the business capitalizing on price hikes.

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Hassan Al-Tawadi, head of the organizing committee for the November-December tournament, said he is working to limit “price gouging” as costs for limited accommodation in the Qatar capital rise.

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino said there were five million ticket requests for the final at Lusail’s 80,000-seat stadium, indicating feverish demand for the Middle East’s first World Cup.

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“I think about 1.2 million tickets have already been bought,” Al-Tawadi said at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha. “So people are really buying and people are happy to come there. There is no doubt about that.”

Organizing committee representatives said that about 40 million ticket requests were submitted through the two phases of online sales. A total of two million tickets will be sold, with another million reserved for FIFA and sponsors.

Doha, with a population of around 2.4 million, is bracing for a huge influx of visitors. The 32-team tournament will take place at eight stadiums in and around the capital, putting a heavy strain on infrastructure.

Qatar says hotels, apartments, cruise ships and desert camps will have 130,000 rooms, as well as 1,000 tents. He promised dormitory rooms for only $85 a night.

“There will be glamping,” Infantino said on the forum, referring to high-end camping. Traditional Bedouin-style tents will be equipped with water and electricity, but no air conditioning.

“Accommodation is not a concern,” he added. “Everything is being done to ensure that there is enough housing here, and also, of course, in neighboring countries.”

– “The Beating of Qatar” –

More than 160 round-trip shuttle flights a day will bring fans from neighboring countries, reducing housing pressure, and capacity at two Doha international airports has been doubled.

To limit the number of fans, only people with match tickets will be allowed into the tiny, gas-rich country during the World Cup.

But Al-Tawadi admitted that it was “difficult” to contain house prices, which are rising in line with demand.

“(We want to) avoid price gouging,” he said. “Obviously, market forces always mean that as long as there is a lot of demand, prices will skyrocket.

“We’re trying to create an environment where the business community benefits, but at the same time, it’s affordable and affordable for the fans.”

Al-Tawadi also downplayed the likelihood of protests in Qatar, after constant criticism of his treatment of foreign workers and laws against homosexuality. Demonstrations in Qatar are rare.

“Welcome everyone. But given where you’re from, we have a very rich culture. We ask people to respect our culture,” he said.

Infantino also dismissed concerns that fans could be arrested for petty infractions. Drinking alcohol in public places is also an offense in a conservative country.

“Of course, people will be arrested if they destroy something, if they start fighting in the streets, and we don’t expect that this usually happens at the world championships,” Infantino said.

As the World Cup approaches, questions about rights and freedoms in Qatar are on the rise, prompting more and more succinct responses from officials.

The CEO of Accor, a French hotel chain with Qatar capital that has contracted to provide accommodation services using thousands of foreign workers, dismissed criticism of labor rights as an “attack on Qatar.”

“I have heard that many people criticize Qatar and they seem to enjoy it,” Sebastien Bazin told AFP, adding: “We will do our best to ensure that this criticism of Qatar remains unfounded.”

He also promised to find work after the World Cup for the 13,000 people hired to work with Accor at the tournament.



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