Qatar World Cup 2022: FIFA break silence on stadium capacity furore, empty seats

FIFA has revealed numbers to refute claims fans have deserted the World Cup because it’s being hosted by Qatar.

Empty seats have been a hot topic in Qatar, with fans questioning why some sections at the stadiums are only half full.

At the Wales-Iran game on Friday night, there were large sections empty at kick off. And it has been a similar story at other games this tournament.

At last night’s Qatar-Senegal game large parts of the crowd left early once the host nation conceded a third goal to end its tournament.

But now FIFA has released numbers to show the stadiums have been at 94 per cent capacity during the opening group games.

“Official figures show that the average overall match attendance stands at an impressive 94 per cent compared to stadium capacities for the event,” a FIFA statement said.

“The highest match attendance of the tournament was the game at Lusail Stadium on 24 November, with 88,103 there to see Brazil beat Serbia 2-0.”

According to FIFA figures, the lowest crowd so far was 39,039 when Switzerland played Cameroon.

FIFA has also been forced to clarify the embarrassing error when the crowd figures were larger than the stadium capacity for some of the opening games.

“Earlier in the week, FIFA also clarified the official capacities and tournament requirements for each of the eight stadiums,” the statement said.

“While FIFA requests that venues hosting the final match, opening game and semi-finals can host a minimum of 80,000 and 60,000 spectators respectively, the magnificent Lusail Stadium can accommodate 88,966 spectators, while Al Bayt Stadium can host up to 68,895 fans.

“For all other matches, a minimum 40,000-seater capacity is required, with the demountable Stadium 974 being the most compact of all Qatar 2022 venues (44,089).

“The capacity figures for the tournament have been finalised after all operational arrangements were made – from the final seating map to temporary infrastructure to accommodate media, broadcasters, and guests.

“It was also explained that capacities for specific matches such as opening and final may vary slightly, and that figures for legacy mode are different and provided by the Host Country.”

The country has spent a reported $356 billion to stage the tournament, including $10 billion on its eight stadiums and a further $54 billion on a rail transport network to connect them all.

Before the event, FIFA boss Gianni Infantino defended the staging of the tournament.

“It’s not easy every day to read all these critics of decisions that were taken 10 years ago when none of us was there,” he said.

“Now everyone knows we have to make the best out of it and make the best World Cup ever.

“Doha is ready, Qatar is ready, it will be the best World Cup ever, of course.”

Revised World Cup capacities

— Lusail Stadium: 88,966

— Al Bayt Stadium: 68,895

— Al Janoub Stadium: 44,325

— Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium: 45,032

— Khalifa International Stadium: 45,857

— Education City Stadium: 44,667

— Stadium 974: 44,089

— Al Thumama Stadium: 44,400

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