DOHA, Qatar—Handwritten paper tickets were given to some fans to enter a World Cup game on Tuesday as hundreds more in Qatar struggled to retrieve their digital passes amid problems with FIFA’s mobile application for a second day.
The Associated Press witnessed a FIFA staffer writing out replacement tickets from a white paper in an attempt to help fans waiting in line outside the France versus Australia match about 40 minutes before the start in Al Wakrah.
Other fans were advised to show security staff their emails from FIFA confirming a ticket purchase and seat number in order to get in Al Janoub Stadium ahead of kickoff. The line had consistently been about 100 people long since two hours before the game.
FIFA acknowledged “alternative solutions being provided” to get all ticket holders into stadiums.
The process at Al Janoub was handled calmly and few if any fans—wearing jerseys and flags from both teams—seemed likely to miss the start of the game that saw 2018 champion France begin defense of its title.
A second day of glitches and unwanted tension for fans began with a line of distressed fans snaked outside the main ticketing help desk in Doha. Many reported that their tickets had abruptly disappeared from their phones and could not be retrieved—a glitch that caused hundreds to miss the start of England’s match against Iran on Monday.
In front of a sign marked “Ticket Resolution Point” at a convention center in central Doha, fans swapped stories of ticket troubles and showed volunteers error messages on their mobile apps. One security guard, Mahammad Sajid, said it had been difficult to control some angry fans when the crowds peaked earlier in the morning.
Marciel Hernandez, a 64-year-old soccer fan from Mexico City, was waiting in line, seething in his sombrero. He said the app problems forced him to miss the first 20 minutes of the England-Iran game the day before.
“I’ve been to six World Cups and I’ve never had any kinds of problems like this,” he said, adding that two of his tickets had failed to show up on his mobile app. “These are important matches I could miss. I spend my whole life savings on the World Cup so when things don’t go well, it’s very frustrating.”
Behind him in line, Mohamed Tom, a mechanical engineer from Khartoum, Sudan, said he was “very worried” that the volunteers wouldn’t be able to resolve his problems before his next match in a few hours. “Everyone is having difficulties,” he said.
Mohamed Afran, a 32-year-old fan from Algeria, said it was his fifth time coming to the convention center to wait in line. The last four times, he said, helpless volunteers had asked him to return the next day.
“This is not the best place to be during the World Cup,” he said, dripping with sweat under the sun.
“FIFA’s service provider is working on solving the issue that some spectators are facing with the FIFA Ticketing app as soon as possible,” soccer’s world body said.
The experiment of playing a World Cup almost entirely in the city of Doha did work for some fans attending the France-Australia game. Dozens of Mexico fans raced to get into the venue to see back-to-back games less than one hour after watching their own nation draw 0-0 with Poland at nearby Stadium 974.
Image credits: AP