Wales fan’s 1,000-mile round trip to be at their first game: Super-fan drove 72 miles before flight from Dubai to Doha for match before return trip… and it’s going to cost him ‘THOUSANDS’
- Tim Hartley is staying in the UAE because of accommodation shortage in Qatar
- The 62-year-old and his friends drove an hour-and-a-half to Dubai this morning
- The group then caught an hour-long flight to Doha to watch Wales play the USA
- He criticised FIFA for allowing Qatar to host when they don’t have enough beds
A Wales fan staying in the UAE is having to take three 1,000-mile round trips to attend each of his team’s group matches in Doha due to the lack of accommodation in Qatar.
Tim Hartley, 62, and his friends are staying in Ras Al-Khaimah and drove one-and-a-half hours to Dubai this morning, before flying an hour to Doha – a journey they will repeat for Wales’s next two games.
Mr Hartley, an author from Cardiff, said: ‘It’s ridiculous that we have to catch these flights three times,’ he said, referring to Wales’s group B matches.
‘What is the size of my carbon footprint?’ he said. ‘I already feel compromised on issues of human rights.’
Each trip to Qatar is limited to 24 hours due to the tourists’ visas, he said, meaning the fans will have to fly out of Doha again at 4am local time.
Tim Hartley (second from left), 62, and his friends are staying in Ras Al-Khaimah and drove one-and-a-half hours to Dubai this morning, before flying an hour to Doha – a journey they will repeat for Wales’s next two games
The Wales fan is having to take three 1,000-mile round trips to attend each of his team’s group matches in Doha due to the lack of accommodation in Qatar
The football fanatic described the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar as ‘absolutely crazy’.
‘You would have thought as part of the bidding process FIFA would at least ask if there would be enough beds for fans,’ he said.
With a population of three million, Qatar has fewer than 31,000 hotel rooms so organisers converted 130,000 rooms into temporary accommodation for the World Cup.
But fans have criticised the £185-a-night metal containers that they have found themselves sleeping in, calling them cramped and stuffy.
Mr Hartley said one fan he knows was unable to make the opening match today after his Hayya Card, which all fans need to travel to watch the games, was declined.
‘One guy from Port Talbot’s Hayya card was not validated, so he was refused boarding in Dubai.
‘He had to leave his brother to fly alone, the poor man will be watching from his hotel!’ he said, adding that the man would likely have forked out thousands.
The 62-year-old said he also feared the huge costs of having to travel for each game, particularly if his side, who haven’t made it to a World Cup since 1958, make it through the group stage.
Mr Hartley said he is ‘angry’ that what should have been the high point of his ‘football following life’ has been ‘sullied’ by the choice of location
‘It’s early days of this World Cup and I dread to think how much I have spent.
‘I am doing it on the cheap But in the UAE and Qatar food and drink are eye-wateringly expensive.
‘You have to follow your team as this is the only time in my lifetime Wales will be in a World Cup,’ he said.
But the Wales fan added: ‘It is with a very heavy heart that I have come.
‘My friend Kevin from Caerphilly, who is a life-long trades unionist, said that because of the workers rights issues here he could not come.
‘We have travelled together, following the team from China to the USA, for decades and now he has to stay at home.’
Each trip to Qatar is limited to 24 hours due to the tourists’ visas, he said, meaning the group of Wales superfans will have to fly out of Doha again at 4am local time
‘My gay friends say, with hand on heart, because of the situation here that they will not travel.
‘I am angry that what should’ve been highest point of my football following life has been sullied.’
This afternoon Wales fans said they had their rainbow bucket hats confiscated from them ahead of the match against the USA.
Wales’ Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, said male supporters wearing the hats were allowed to keep them but the accessories were taken from women.
Former Wales international footballer Laura McAllister, now a professor at Cardiff University, wrote on Twitter: ‘So, despite fine words from @FIFAWorldCup before event, @Cymru rainbow bucket hats confiscated at stadium, mine included.
‘I had a conversation about this with stewards – we have video evidence. This WorldCup2022 just gets better but we will continue stand up for our values.’