Jan 12 : China v Qatar

Things could only get better after a shocker yesterday. As in any tournament when the host nation gets knocked out, a part of the spirit of the event disappears. Locals working are less enthusiastic, the friendliness towards foreigners goes down a notch and crowds dwindle.

Qatar had to win. They were playing China today. A team built from 12 year olds from my understanding and a team that has grown up together and will try and qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

This was the start of the second round of games in the group stages.

After today I could potentially only have one game left to do the important documentary work on Qatar football fans as from now until 2022 I figure the World Cup will always be in the news.

I could have done Kuwait v Uzbekistan too but decided to wander around the stadium where the Qatar game was going to take place and record the fans and atmosphere outside. The only major issue I had was that, as always, was without a match ticket and like other photographers had to queue up 90 mins before kick off and get an important purple bit of card that would let me past the stern looking security guards an onto the pitchside.

When taking pictures it is important to obviously show what is it like but also stereotype too. A picture editor will probably not select pictures that do not fit an agenda. The highway outside the stadium is always busy. After getting my new Mercedes in November I am slowly becoming well sad and getting to spot and identify different types of Mercedes Benz cars. Here in Qatar with the oil money they have some amazing vehicles.

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

 

However with all the wind, dust and sand storms, all the cars are in show room condition.

I have seen where the locals buy their furniture, have discovered the office shops, found the restaurants and petrol stations but have yet to find where they get their cars cleaned!

So apart from documenting the slick super highways with posh cars running up and down on it, it was also important to document the desert look and wide open spaces. No jeans are worn, no denim jackets with patches on like German fans, no French men carrying live cockerells under their arms, no English drinking beer. No Brazilian girls with hardly anything on, no Argentians singing and celebrating before a ball is kicked. Just figues you see around the place every day wearing white Dishdashahs, and some with purple and white scarfs as they go to watch their national team.

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

 

China should have won – but didn’t.

Playing like a cup team, Qatar were always that bit quicker, that bit stronger and scored two great first half goals.

Doing China attack first half I feared the worst and expected a China onslaught which would result in more action up the other end making my day useless. China had hardly done anything to warrant any first half snapping.

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

 

Qatar however carried on attacking and got a well deserved 0-2 victory. Zero Two because Qatar were classed as the away team of this Group A encounter.

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

 

…yet again I was entranced by the women in the crowd. This time the women had their own sections in the stadium. They did not mix with the men.

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Today was cold. The wind chill made it very shivery once the sun had gone down. It reminded me of South Africa – not exactly in the minus degrees but as soon as the sun drops out of the sky the temperature drops. Thus the men wear their ‘winter’ outfits and wear traditional Arabic dress winter a Shumag, a red and white scarf-like head cover kept in place by an Ogal

 

 

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

 

The men had their horns. The men had their drums. The men had their chants.

But they were over shadowed by the screams by the women as Qatar pushed forward. And when they were not attacking, the women were the first to praise and cheer on the goalkeeper keeping out the Chinese.

The women have all the banners too and its almost like having three sets of fans inside a stadium, two supporting one team and obviously the away supporters cheering on the visiting team.

 

Normally at tournaments I spend the second week or so scouring the internet and finding out about substitutes who I know very little of. Instead of investigating China’s Yang Xu, I think I will do some research into the culture of women at football matches.

 

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

 

In the tournament media centre, it is mostly managed by women.

Women who seem to spend all day reading the sports pages!

Women who give out the team sheets indicating to seasoned journalists with 6 FIFA World Cups under their belt pointing that a star player is only substitute.

Its all very culturally different from what I am used to but very very intriguing.

The ignorance of the average fan in Europe who knows nothing about Qatar and who is quick to question the decision on awarding the World Cup here,  should learn something about this amazing culture and amazing place.

So what you can’t drink. So what the Brazilian girls probably won’t be wearing bikinis in the sunshine, but the Middle East certainly has some sort of appeal.

I’ve yet to put my finger on it yet though.

 

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One response to “Jan 12 : China v Qatar

  1. Matt,

    I’m so glad you went out to cover the Asian Cup. Having read your entire World Cup blog whilst covering “everything else” over here last summer, I was looking forward to the AFC blog.

    I was personally quite pleased Qatar got the World Cup in 2022 and having had relatives who lived out there a few years back and loved it, I knew deep down it would be brilliant. This post just exemplifies this, it will be different to what most World Cup travellers are used to, but it’s a massive change of culture to what they’re used to as well.

    Beyond the contrived ignorant comments that will inevitably be made in the run up to 2022, I think people will really enjoy the difference in culture…that said, unless the stadiums are air-conditioned I don’t relish the chance of working out there…I’ll probably still ask to go though!

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