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QATAR: World Cup police brace for huge crowds in capital

THE main security problem of the 2022 World Cup will be controlling hundreds of thousands of football fans in Qatar’s capital, FIFA told police chiefs from participating nations on Sunday.

Unlike past World Cups, where just two teams and their fans would congregate in one city at a time, all of the games will be held in and around Doha.

FIFA security director Helmut Spahn said at a security presentation for the event in Doha that the most geographically constrained World Cup poses the game’s largest “challenge.”

According to Spahn, speaking on the sidelines of the conference, 1.4 million visitors are expected to visit Qatar during the 28-day event, which begins November 21, with “roughly 350,000” people in Doha “at the same time.”

“You have to manage that,” he said. “But we can create history and I am pretty sure that we will manage it.”

The major issue, according to Major General Abdulaziz Al-Ansari, head of Qatar’s World Cup security operation, is the numbers.

“But we are very much confident that we have reviewed this over and over again,” Ansari said. “Of course there are going to be challenges, but the challenge is going to be part of the enjoyment.”

The authorities in the Gulf state are planning a complex system of road closures and extra public transportation to shuttle competing football fan groups around.

For the World Cup, the gas-rich country has spent billions of euros on seven new stadiums and the refurbishment of the eighth.

The distance between the two stadiums is around 70 kilometers (45 miles).

Over the next two days, police representatives from participating nations will evaluate World Cup stadiums and review transportation in Doha, according to Ansari.

Since 2006, Spahn stated, the threat of “terrorism” has decreased in Germany, South Africa, Brazil, and Russia.

In the past “we had terrorist attack threats prior to a World Cup, we had strikes of private security and police, we had problems sometimes with infrastructure at stadiums not being ready. This is not the case here,” Spahn said.

The threat “is low and under control here in Qatar.”

European fans’ groups have been seeking clarity on Qatar’s tournament policy on alcohol consumption, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.

Ansari said a guide for fans going to Qatar would be released next month.

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