By DAVIDSON ABRAHAM, Middle East
During Qatar’s opening-game defeat to Ecuador, many empty seats could be seen in the second half as Qatari fans expressed their displeasure at the hosts’ display.
With their side 2-0 down at half time of the 2022 World Cup’s opening game against Ecuador, many Qatar fans had already seen enough. When the second half got going at Al Bayt Stadium, several patches of empty seats could be seen in the stands, despite the arena being full during the first 45.
The area in which it was most evident that home supporters had made an early exit was behind one of the goals. A ‘red wave’ had filled this section with colour in the opening period, but some 70% of that group of fans was nowhere to be seen after the break. On the other side of the arena, above a section housing Ecuador fans, it was also clear that a number of home fans had departed.
Qatar fans vent fury at hosts’ display
Some journalists, such as TUDN’s Adrián Esparza, who was located outside of the stadium, reported comments by furious Qatar fans. “We’ve already lost – all those years waiting for this, and they go out and play like that,” one Qatari told Esparza after leaving early.
“A stain on the history of the tournament”
On social media, Qatari fans’ sharp exit did not go unnoticed. One Twitter user, @CorellanoJuan, wrote: “For years, they’ve been trying to sell us the idea that Qatar is a football-mad country. That lie didn’t even last 90 minutes. The opening game of the tournament has ended up with the stands half-empty.” Another tweeter, @JZazo19, said: “The image of the stadium with empty stands is a stain on the history of this tournament.”
Senegal up next for Qatar
After losing to Enner Valencia’s first-half double for Ecuador, Qatar play their second game of the World Cup against Senegal on Friday. Felix Sánchez’s men then play their final group-stage match against the Netherlands on Tuesday.