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World Cup 2022 attendances: FIFA explain why they’re higher than ‘stadium capacity’

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Football fans have been left utterly confused by the announced attendance at 2022 World Cup games so far during this tournament.

There has been a sorry sight of empty seats in many matches during the Qatar World Cup.

However, try telling that to the tournament organisers.

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Instead, attendance announced have actually exceeded the apparent stadium capacity.

In the opening two days, these have been the attendances and the reported stadium capacities:

  • Qatar vs Ecuador – 67,372 (Stadium capacity = 60,000)
  • England vs Iran – 45,334 (Stadium capacity = 40,000)
  • Senegal vs Netherlands – 41,721 (Stadium capacity = 40,000)
  • USA vs Wales – 43,418 (Stadium capacity = 40,000)

How is it possible there are more fans inside the stadium than the stadium can actually hold? Especially when empty seats can be seen everywhere.

Well, there is now an explanation.

BBC’s Rachel Burden revealed what she has been told by FIFA.

She tweeted: “I’ve just been contacted by a FIFA spokesperson who’s told me…capacity figure is the reference capacity that meets the FIFA requirements. The final capacity during event mode is higher (hence the mismatch).”

Why attendances are higher than stadium capacities at World CupWhy attendances are higher than stadium capacities at World Cup

What does that mean?

Well, FIFA tweeted out the official stadium capacity of the eight arenas and they’re higher than the originally listed attendance.

FIFA World Cup capacitiesFIFA World Cup capacities

The original capacities were listed as:

  • Lusail Stadium | 80,000 seats
  • Al Bayt Stadium | 60,000 seats
  • Al Janoub Stadium | 40,000 seats
  • Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium | 40,000 seats
  • Khalifa International Stadium | 40,000 seats
  • Education City Stadium | 40,000 seats
  • Stadium 974 | 40,000 seats
  • Al Thumama Stadium | 40,000 seats

And to round it off, FIFA are counting ‘tickets’ sold’ rather than fans that actually enter the stadium.

That explains it.

How many migrant workers died building Qatar stadiums?

Of the eight stadiums, seven were built after Qatar were awarded the World Cup 12 years ago.

However, the tournament has been overshadowed by the treatment – and reported deaths – of migrant workers while building the stadiums.

In February 2021, the Guardian reported that 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded.

Argentina v Saudi Arabia: Group C - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

It meant an average of 12 migrant workers from  India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died each week since December 2010.

Nick McGeehan, a director at FairSquare Projects, an advocacy group specialising in labour rights in the Gulf said: “A very significant proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar won the right to host the World Cup.”

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