Three games into the 2022 FIFA World Cup and it's fair to say that the tournament has been a bit of a damp squib so far.
The opener between Qatar and Ecuador was a complete mismatch, with the host nation looking completely out of their depth at this level. England's game against Iran was another one-sided affair, and while Netherlands vs Senegal was a close game, it was lacking in excitement.
While the action on the pitch has been lacklustre, everything else surrounding that has also been questionable.
England fans had issues getting into their game earlier today, with the app used to check tickets crashing and leaving many stuck outside the stadium by the time the match kicked off. At least those fans did get in eventually, with many seemingly opting to stay away from the tournament altogether.
Yesterday's game featuring the hosts was a sight to behold, with thousands of locals leaving the stadium at halftime as their team was already a couple of goals behind. By the time the final whistle went, the ground was less than quarter full.
Qatar fans were seen leaving the stadium early in their 2-0 World Cup opening loss to Ecuador. pic.twitter.com/WVALK3rXeQ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 20, 2022
Today wasn't much better, with FIFA even attempting to completely exaggerate the attendance of one fixture.
FIFA exaggerate World Cup attendances
Prior to the tournament, Netherlands vs Senegal was seen as one of the more appealing group games. As a result, you would have expected a good crowd to show up on the day.
That wasn't the case. Television pictures and comments from those in attendance made it clear that there were huge amounts of empty seats in the Al Thumama Stadium.
Lots of empty seats in the Senegal vs Netherlands game. pic.twitter.com/0PTcxHiRgH
— World Cup Updates (@wc22updates) November 21, 2022
Dutch fans in Doha. Not too much orange in the stadium for Netherlands v Senegal pic.twitter.com/nNYH4lwJAt
— Andy Scott (@andpscott) November 21, 2022
— Bimal Panthi (@bimalpanthigma1) November 21, 2022
10 minutes before kick off and a lot of empty seats at Netherlands-Senegal pic.twitter.com/e9l40ayVvF
— Tom Hamilton (@tomhamiltonespn) November 21, 2022
However, FIFA would have you believe that the game was very well attended. In fact, they even claim that the stadium was overfull.
The official attendance of the game was said to be 41,721, despite the fact that the stadium only holds 40,000 spectators. Of course, that is also ignoring the blatantly obvious fact that there was thousands of empty seats in the stands throughout the ground.
The attendance for Senegal vs. Netherlands was announced as 41,721.
The official capacity of the Al Thumama Stadium stadium in Qatar is 40,000.
Here are some photos of the stands...#QatarWorldCup2022 pic.twitter.com/09jdf9TNTf
— Eurosport (@eurosport) November 21, 2022
It wouldn't be like FIFA to twist the truth. Considering the way they have treated fans up to this point in the tournament, lying attendances is among the smaller issues around the event at the moment.
As it turns out, it was a similar situation at all three games on Monday.
In the 3 World Cup 2022 matches before USA-Wales, the official attendances have been 67,372 (in a stadium with capacity of 60,000); 45,334 (in a stadium holding 40,000) and 41,721 (in a stadium holding 40,000).
Amazing, not least given all the empty seats.
— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) November 21, 2022
Of course, the reasons for lower numbers of fans travelling to Qatar is completely understandable. Not only have many decided to stay away due to the humanitarian issues associated with hosting the tournament in the country, but the prices of flights, accommodation, and other amenities has resulted in many becoming priced out of supporting their country at the event.
The whole thing has been a disaster so far and no amount of lying about attendances is going to change that.
UPDATE: FIFA Media released a tweet last night implying that stadium capacities had been expanded for this tournament. Watch this space.
Check here the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official stadium capacity ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/vUYBTDRmyj
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) November 21, 2022