The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been a crazy tournament so far, to say the least. Huge upsets, unexpected results, breakout players—all the action is already so captivating to watch from our TV screens at home.
But based on what we’ve heard from our friends in Qatar, the action can’t quite compare to when you’re witnessing history in the flesh.
Three of The GAME’s friends, Paola, KJ, and Raf, are in Qatar enjoying the World Cup atmosphere. They have been kind enough to answer all the questions we’ve been dying to ask, and though we can only use our imagination, their stories make it pretty easy to pretend like we’re there too.
While we may be jealous, we’re not selfish. So we’re sharing it with you: this is what it’s like to be at the 2022 Qatar World Cup live.
Can you describe what the atmosphere of being a fan is like at the World Cup?
Paola: Imagine being in a big music festival, but the performances are the matches. In each place, you come across a group or an individual who’s all-out to support their team. Fans cheer for their country whether they’re inside the metro, at a fan festival, restaurant, or in an elevator. The vibe is so festively intense!
Raf: Fans are crazy. Cheering, singing, and drums everywhere, inside and outside the stadium. After every match, there’s a concert outside the stadium, with lots of music for fans to release more energy and celebrate!
KJ: The atmosphere at the world cup is incomparable with any other feeling, with different nationalities shouting and cheering around you and the entire stadium. You’re surrounded by different cultures of football and this alone has a sense of fulfillment that you have finally reached the biggest sports stage in the world.
What’s the energy like watching an entire match?
Paola: It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions as you’re hoping that the country you’re rooting for will win. After attending four matches, the most memorable one was Portugal vs. Switzerland in the Round of 16. It’s probably the quickest 90-minute match because there was no dull moment. The Ronaldo fans, including myself, were chanting his name all throughout.
KJ: Every opportunity to score a goal from either team, I would stand up and try to capture the entire moment of build-up whether it goes in or not. And seeing other people reacting the same way you do, standing up fast and then putting their hands on their heads—it’s a funny but amazing sight to see.
Raf: You can buy food and drinks during halftime, but expect long lines. Or you can buy two minutes before the halftime whistle, then you won’t have to worry about the lines, but there’s the possibility of missing a goal. Just like what I experienced when Giroud scored a 44th-minute goal against Poland! I was buying hotdogs!
What is it like walking into the huge stadiums? Which ones impressed you the most?
Paola: It’s definitely a cardio exercise crossed out from my daily checklist. Exhausting! It’s a 20 to 30-minute walk just to get to the stadium from the parking lot. It’s a huge space and I guess that was intended to control the crowd from a stampede.
Raf: Lusail stadium is the biggest stadium of all. I love the exterior. It can accommodate the highest capacity compared to others.
KJ: The first time I walked into the stadium and went out to the open area, it was like a scene out of a movie. I watched Japan vs. Spain at the Khalifa International Stadium and the entire experience from entering to seeing the pitch was amazing. It was like opening your eyes toward the sunlight and waiting for the rays to disappear until you finally see clearly. It was a very magical experience.
What are the goal celebrations like?
Raf: Ecstatic. Fans shout at the top of their lungs, jump as lively as possible, and celebrate with their seatmates.
Paola: The crowd goes wild. The winning side gets off their seat to celebrate while the losing end just feels defeated which is evident on their faces.
KJ: One notable goal celebration I remember was when Serbia played Switzerland and when either team scored, music from their team would play all over the stadium and it felt like a party every time. That match was crazy because it was a goal fest, so I kept on hearing the music over and over again.
How do the fans handle the losses? How do they react to the wins?
Paola: You’ll see the frustration on their faces when their team loses while the win seems like they won a lottery by the joy from their reactions.
Raf: In my experience, a lot of them congratulate the winning fans inside the stadium. But some fans leave out earlier than the final whistle.
KJ: Fans are amazingly respectful. I was sitting beside a Spain fan with his kid, and I was supporting Japan. After the game, we both nodded to respect and he said that it was a great game despite Spain’s loss.
How has this experience differed from other sporting events you’ve watched live before?
Paola: For me, a small or big sporting event will have the same intensity, the difference is only in size. It’s just up to you how you’re gonna make your experience worthwhile.
Raf: This is my first World Cup. However, going back to Manila, I was seated with an Australian national born in Serbia who also attended the Russia 2018 World Cup. According to him, he preferred the 2018 edition, as the previous one was more relaxed than this year.
KJ: This was an entirely different experience compared to other live sports I’ve watched. There is no other comparison for the grandeur of the experience. This tops anything else.
Excitement off the pitch
Football fans from all over the world flocked to Qatar for one reason: the World Cup. And while the nonstop football action keeps most fans busy throughout the entire tournament, there is still a lot that the host country offers outside of the giant stadiums.
Paola, Raf, and KJ would be remiss if they didn’t soak in every part of the Qatar 2022 experience.
We’re not jealous, you are.
Watching the World Cup live is definitely an experience like no other.
Being around the die-hard football fans of every competing nation, witnessing history-making goals, watching the legendary veterans of the game and the breakout stars live on the pitch—if you can only imagine, imagining is surely enough to make you wish you were there too.
And who knows? Maybe one day you will be.