World Cup in Pakistan’s ‘Backyard’

World Cup in Pakistan

Check-in Desk at Allama Iqbal International

The airline representative alerts travellers waiting in line for their trip that the Hayya application on their phones needs to be updated at the check-in desk at Allama Iqbal International. 

The World Cup organisers had updated the software for Qatar‘s entry permit hours before the flight was scheduled to depart for Doha, sending those waiting for their boarding tickets into a frenzy. 

Most of them are taking this vacation once in a lifetime. When given the chance to watch players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in action, people start downloading the update right away. 

Qatar’s proximity to Pakistan

Because of Qatar’s proximity to Pakistan, more Pakistani soccer fans will be travelling to the Arab nation to attend the world championship than in previous years. Fans have reached into their wallets to attend a World Cup game despite the depreciating value of the rupee because it has never been this convenient. 

Nauman Zaheer said at the airport, “I’ve been watching football since 2004 and, finally, I’m travelling for the World Cup.” Nauman had three tickets for the group games. “Really looking forward to this.”

Football Tourism in Pakistan

This World Cup marks the first time in three tournaments that a flight is primarily made up of World Cup fans. Football tourism has become a major industry in Pakistan, which has direct flights running from Pakistan to Qatar. 

Beginning with the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, spectators could receive a fan ID with just a match ticket, enabling them to apply for a visa upon arrival. This time around, Qatar has utilised the Hayya pass in the same manner. 

Farazam Younus, who has tickets for the Spain-Costa Rica game on Nov. 23, said, “It’s an easy method for us [the fans] to do it.” He is visiting Qatar to meet with his brother, who lives and works there. “I attended the Arab Cup [a World Cup qualifier last year], but this one is unique because it’s the major event.”

World Cup and Religious Duties

As many as 30 members of the Tableeghi Jamaat are travelling to Doha on the aeroplane with a particular kind of fan in order to not only watch the World Cup but also carry out their religious duties. 

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The decision to go to the World Cup was taken last year during the Raiwind Ijtema after we received an invitation from the Qatar Tablighi Markaz, who urged individuals who were interested to purchase tickets for a game. 

“Therefore, we promptly requested a ballot. We were unable to purchase tickets during the initial sales period, but we were eventually successful.” 

Match between Tunisia and Denmark

Fortunately for the group, they were able to secure tickets for the Nov. 22 match between Tunisia and Denmark. Furthermore, they are certain which team they will be rooting for. They declare, “Of course… we will be supporting our Muslim brothers.” 

The World Cup provides the Jamaat with an opportunity to spread their message, which for them transcends football

“We are always invited to tournaments that draw attention from throughout the world. But since Pakistan is so close to Qatar, this was an opportunity for us to go together. What better venue to spread the word than in Qatar, where fans from all around the world are gathering?” 

Matches between Portugal and England

Nauman’s primary motivation for attending the World Cup, though, is to have fun. It’s his chance to witness members of his favourite team, Manchester United, up close and personal because he has tickets to matches between Portugal and England. 

He said, “Both Cristiano and [his Portugal teammate] Bruno Fernandes will be there.”

Excellent News for United Supporter

“Marcus Rashford will be available for England, which is excellent news for the United supporter in me.” 

The anticipation increases when the plane lands at the recently opened Doha International Airport. Fans approach immigration desks with the Hayya app open on their smartphones.

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