Cruise liners will be berthed in Qatar to help the tiny nation accommodate a million football fans during the World Cup in 2022.
The Gulf nation, which has a population of about 2.7 million, announced plans for floating hotels amid mounting questions over its infrastructure to host the massive influx of supporters. The local organising committee said on Tuesday that it had signed an agreement with MSC Cruises to charter two liners with a combined capacity of 4,000 cabins.
Hassan al-Thawadi, said: “We are pleased to collaborate with MSC Cruises to deliver this unique accommodation option for fans in 2022. We are sure fans from all over the world will be excited at the prospect of staying onboard a cruise ship, with a fabulous view of West Bay, and fast access to all the stadiums and fan zones.” Rates are yet to be confirmed, although current MSC cruises run from £599 per person.
Fifa’s decision to award the tournament to the Gulf state was beset by scandal, and the conditions endured by migrant labourers building stadiums for 2022 have been the subject of international outrage. The World Athletics Championships, held earlier this year in Doha and part of the preparations for hosting the World Cup, were also characterised by sparse crowds.
The committee has promised that there will be enough accommodation for everyone and that alcohol - currently only obtainable at a handful of places at prohibitive prices - would be made more widely available. The ships will be berthed at Doha Port throughout the month-long tournament.
"Chartering cruise liners for fans has long been part of Qatar's accommodation strategy, with the country keen to offer sustainable solutions," a statement for the organising committee read.
It did not say whether alcohol would be available on board. Shuttle buses will take fans to the metro - which is so far only partially complete. The committee said other accommodation options will include apartments and fan villages in the desert as well as hotels.