By Tim Witcher
The 32 football teams taking part in this year’s World Cup will be based in copies of Arabian palaces, in wellness resorts and luxury hotels where alcohol is banned, FIFA said Tuesday.
According to a list released by the sport’s world governing body, 24 of the teams will be in bases — hotels but also university lodgings — concentrated around the capital.
All teams have chosen to stay in the tiny Gulf state for the tournament which starts on November 18.
Defending champions France will be at the Al Messila, a resort near Doha that boasts of its “private palace setting”. Villas can cost more than $2,500 a night — not including champagne.
Germany will be in the Zulal overlooking the Gulf that bills itself as the biggest wellness resort in the Middle East. Owned by Qatar’s ruling family, the resort’s royal suite costs more than $10,000 a night.
Manuel Neuer and his teammates will be the furthest from Doha, a 100-kilometre (62-mile) drive to the capital.
The resort advocates “traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine” and has a strict no alcohol rule.
Zulal general manager Daniele Vastolo said a lot of the teams had visited the resort because it allowed them to be “in a bubble” away from Doha’s crowds.
– World Cup solitude –
He added that security would also be easier as there is only one entrance.
“There will be no fans coming here bothering the guests or team to ask for photographs and autographs. So I think here they can really be isolated. “But at the same time if they have one day that they look for distractions, they can drive to Doha.”
Fans will get easier access to the Al Shamal Stadium nearby, the German training ground, which is styled on a fortress.
Belgium have chosen the Hilton Salwa on the opposite coast with its own private beach, a private water theme park, with slides and cliff jumps, and villas costing up to $7,000 a night.
It is a favoured weekend destination for rich families in the Gulf state that has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes.
England are in the Souq Al Wakra hotel, where authorities plan to close off a section of the nearby public beach for Harry Kane and the rest of the squad.
There is no alcohol, as in most of Qatar, but the hotel facilities are being modified to bring in extra gym equipment and video games and other entertainment for the players.
The bulk of the teams are in hotels “within a 10km (six mile) radius of each other, further ensuring that the event’s thrilling atmosphere is concentrated in and around Doha”, FIFA said.
Brazil have chosen the city centre Westin near a main road, while the United States will be in the main district for expatriate residents.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina and former champions Spain have opted for “luxury” lodgings at Qatar University from where they can walk to their training ground.
More than one million fans are expected to visit Qatar for the tournament that finishes on December 18.
Some will be in $2,000 a night hotels but many are expected to stay in cheaper portable cabins and desert camps. — Agence France-Presse