Staff, 2022-12-06 00:33:58,
Doha, Qatar – It’s the first time that four teams from Asia and Africa have made it to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup. In-form Morocco are still in the fray. But for many fans from those continents, including the Middle East, there’s another reason to celebrate the ongoing tournament: It’s simply easier and more affordable to attend.
Saudi Arabia and India sit at the top of the list of countries with the most applications for Hayya Cards – which fans need to enter Qatar for the World Cup – according to figures released by FIFA after the completion of the tournament’s group stage.
While Saudi Arabia played at the World Cup and pulled off its first big upset, beating Argentina 2-1, India has never come close to qualifying for football’s premier event. Still, visitors from India accounted for 34 percent of the total arrivals during the group stages.
Mohit Kayan, who came to Doha from Mumbai, said the reason is simple: the World Cup is in Qatar, on the Arabian Peninsula, which is part of West Asia. “It’s a proud moment for all of us [Asians] that the continent is hosting its second World Cup [after Japan and South Korea in 2002], especially since it is so close to India,” Kayan told Al Jazeera.
Kayan arrived in Doha for a match-day visit via Dubai, where his friends joined him on a shuttle flight. “We arrived on the morning of the game, took a bus to the stadium and will now head back to Dubai after spending a few hours at the fan…
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