Thursday, 3 February 2011

Qatar - please learn from your mistakes

I was rather amused to see this story on ArabianBusiness today about fans not being able to attend the finals of the Asian Cup football because of a security detail that took place on the day of the final.

Apart from the fact that Qatar is now trying to compensate those locked out of the final by offering them a refund, what really amused me was the fact that this isn't the first time this has happened in Qatar.

In 2006, when Qatar was hosting the Asian Games, I was there and was to attend the final of the ladies tennis event, the football final and the closing ceremony.  All three were at different venues and I was to attend this over a period of two days, with the football and closing ceremony being on the second day.

On the day of the football final, the authorities in Qatar decided to switch venues to a stadium closer to where the closing ceremony would take place because Qatar had qualified for the final of the football (against Iraq) and certain dignitaries wanted to attend both events.

Anyone who's involved even the smallest event knows that you can't change venues at the last minute like this as events like this are planned months, if not years in advance.  In any case, Qatar did what Qatar wants and moved the final to a stadium that had a smaller capacity than the one where the final was to be held.

I was at the Asian Games with a platinum sponsor of the event and they had VIP tickets for the final.  However, much to their embarrassment, we were made to stand outside the stadium for nearly 40 mins until we got in as they didn't know where to seat us or where seats were still available.  It really made you wonder how things could be planned like this for a major event like the Asian Games.

At the very least, I thought this would've been a learning experience for Qatar but five years later, you still see the same issue arise.  There is no way you can end up enjoying a final of a tournament if you've missed a good portion of it or not seen it at all.  A refund may help pocket but it still leaves a very bitter taste in your mouth.

Qatar - please learn from your mistakes as the world will be watching you in 2022 and I don't think they'll be quite as accommodating that time around.