Japan’s national team topped the “Group of Death” by defeating Germany and Spain. With the success of the Moriyasu Japan team, Japan has been receiving daily reports on the players’ training sessions and their recent activities. At the same time, many fans have visited the region, and reporters and staff have been active there, even if they are not seen by the TV cameras.
Many of those who visit Qatar stay at a group of accommodations called the “fan village. The one I visited is one of four in Doha City and is located closest to Hamad International Airport. The site has more than 7,500 rooms in container-type accommodations, a restaurant, food stalls, two public viewing areas where visitors can watch the games lying down, a supermarket, recreational facilities, and other amenities.
While it is nice to have everything in the same place, the lodging environment is not exactly comfortable. Container-type accommodations, commonly known as “container hotels,” are about six tatami mats in size, converted from the inside of shipping containers to accommodate guests. The facilities include two cots, a closet, a shower, and a toilet. Accommodation costs about 30,000 yen per night. Although the price is high for the facilities, there are also complaints about other aspects. The environment is so poor that the author was forced to take a trip to the first game of the Japanese national team.
The author arrived at the facility at 6:00 a.m. on November 23, the first game for the Japanese national team. However, there was a long line in front of the hotel reception desk. In the end, I could not make it in time for the 4:00 p.m. kickoff, so I had to leave my luggage behind and head to the game.
I thought I was only going to sleep, but there was a problem with the bed. The mattress was so stiff that it was like sleeping on a hard board. Because of the proximity to the airport and the early morning flights overhead, I was woken up at 4:00 a.m. The toilet flushed properly, but after a while, I had to go to the bathroom. The toilets flush properly, but there is a strange smell after a while, and the water is yellowish with sand mixed in.
The biggest problem is the shower. As a matter of course, there is no hot water, and the water does not drain, as if the pipes are clogged. Furthermore, the water leaked into about half of the bedroom. When I called customer service to have it fixed, they said, “We’ll send someone out to fix it right away.
They said, “We’ll send someone out to fix it right away. I’ll have it fixed in 30 minutes!
I went back to my room and waited, but no one came for a day.
The environment is wonderful, with restaurants in luxury hotels in the center of Qatar offering a free choice of food from all over the world. There are also fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Starbucks. Of course, the Fun Village is also lined with stores that have been converted from containers. There is a wide selection of hamburgers, pasta, pizza, and even falafel, a favorite dish of the Muslim community.
Prices, however, are quite high. A tall size Starbucks iced coffee costs about 650 yen. In Japan, the price is 390 yen including tax, which is 1.7 times higher. A boxed lunch at a supermarket costs about 1,000 yen. Some salads are also ¥1,000. A hamburger at Fun Village is about 1,600 yen for a single item, and a pizza is about 2,500 yen for a small size, which is a bit expensive to eat every meal. Moreover, the walk from the room farthest from the store area is more than one kilometer each way, so shopping and eating in the heat alone can be exhausting.
Unfortunately for enthusiasts who come from all over the world, drinking is prohibited in Islam. With the exception of some hotel restaurants and a few places in the city center, such as the “Fan Festival,” a space for fans to socialize, drinking alcohol is not allowed in public places.
Due in part to this, the prices of alcoholic beverages are set even higher. A single Budweiser beer at the “Fun Festival” costs about 2,000 yen. A drink at a restaurant bar in a hotel costs about 2,300 yen, which is four to five times the price in Japan. My friend who lives in Singapore, known for its high cost of living, was surprised at this.
However, it is not all bad. The measures to prevent infection by the new coronavirus have been fully lifted, and people wearing masks are very rare. This has been a world-class sporting event since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, where people can be relaxed in an open environment. Fans from all over the world freely enjoy watching the games and drinking in the outdoor spectator areas, and the cross-country exchanges that are the real appeal of the World Cup are thriving.
With the start of the final tournament, the World Cup has become more and more exciting. The excitement in Qatar continues.
Interview, text, and photos： Koshin Tone
At the age of 37, he signed a professional contract with Rovers of Guam's first division, becoming Japan's only active salaryman overseas professional soccer player. Travels around the world as a writer and businessman.