Inside England and USMNT’s World Cup training facilities in Qatar

After the steps of Saoud bin Abdulrahman strolling down the immaculate green turf of the stadium, the prospect of football is clearly unappealing. The suffocating heat makes it uncomfortable to go out for more than 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the day.

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This is where England will host the World Cup later this month.

With white buildings looming above the low stands before disappearing into the shrouded desert and the call to prayer ringing out as the clock strikes 4pm, the setting is a reminder that this World Cup will be very different.


The Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium

The conflict in Qatar is surrounded by controversies and human rights interests, such as Athletic he explored when visiting the eight stadiums of the country in preparation for the world coming to town.

Having visited the stadiums; Athletic he also thought it would be worthwhile to look into the veins of the World Cup organization for further insight into what the players might experience when they arrive.


when Athletic During his visit in July, an empty car park surrounds the stadium where England will train. There are several food and drink outlets that are open, although not many around.

They invite pull-through visitors who bring out in air-conditioned vehicles a sandwich or a steamed coffee in the heat of the day. One coffee shop was called by Filipino workers Cecilia and Kane.

Kane, of course, shares his name with England’s captain Harry who will soon be training on the pitch just behind the stable. At first, he says he hasn’t heard of him, although after being shown a photograph he insists he looks familiar. He is not a big football fan, preferring basketball, like many of his compatriots.

The two women have no idea that the England team will be coming here, but they reportedly recently visited one of Qatar’s new stadiums after tournament organizers handed out free local tickets to test the facilities.


Cecilia and Kane are standing in the coffee shop near Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium

Qataris make up a small minority of the country’s population, which has put in enormous effort in recent years to prepare for the World Cup. As important as the transformation is, it comes at a human cost. Migrant workers from many countries are exploited, injured and in the worst cases lost their lives.

Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium is not one of the new developments, but a major and minor facility. It is usually home to Al Wakrah SC, who came third in the last season of the Qatar Stars League and won it in 1999 and 2001.

Few of the current team’s players will be familiar from outside the Middle East, but former stars include World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf, who played 10 games for the club in 2004-05; former Premier League players Youssef Chippo and Alain Goma; and Jornaman striker Alan Waddle, a cousin of England legend Chris, who had a brief stint here in 1986.

The site has an exercise facility and a gym. There is a football table in the corridors. There is also a bottle with plastic seats and a garish film with a large cover that can soon be used for tactical instructions.


The facility is equipped with a football table


A large screen in the dining room

It’s a very pleasant but not luxurious affair, and it will be a far cry from the facilities at Premier League clubs, although things look very different now compared to the summer when the building work is still being done.


Qatar is only 100 miles from top to bottom, making it the smallest country ever to host the World Cup.

A large part of the population lives in the capital Doha, with seven eight stations accessible on the Doha Metro system. The eighth, Al Bayt, is just a 25-minute drive from the nearest Metro stop.

All two World Cup teams will be based in and around Doha.

The exception to the Doha cluster is Germany. The 2014 winners head to the Zulal Wellness Resort in the northern tip of the country, an 80-minute drive north of the capital.

Belgium were initially envious of their European rivals’ training camps, as it was better to travel a bit further for each match to benefit from a hotel and training base.

Robert Martinez’s side finally found another option at the Hilton Salwa in the southern region of the western region, a little from Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia, which also has a region well-suited for the tournament.

Bases were distributed according to a first-come, first-served system, and each base and hotel had to be approved by FIFA’s independent monitoring activities.

The teams were asked to choose their first, second and third options, and whoever claimed the first and most suitable option would draw their fastest rangers.

This does not rule out last-minute chaos – in 2018, they changed their minds in Brazil a week ago. It did not help them, 2-1 in Belgium in the quarter-finals, four years since the humiliating defeat to Germany in the semi-final 7-1 home.

Each alliance has a different mindset – if it is established, proximity to the city versus space, or even superstition – other nations do not prioritize disgrace before being called if they “jinx” it.


Doha appeals to some retreating from the hustle and bustle of the media.

It is the most important hotel of the England race, the Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar Tibur, on the shores of the Persian Gulf, a short drive from the stadium where they will be set up.

when Athletic visits, we are welcomed inside by the staff and can only turn in photographs as announced.

The venue is luxurious with separate low-rise accommodation giving players lots of space to relax between training sessions and matches.


England’s most luxurious hotel of the world

There are health rooms, an equipped gym, and the hotel opens directly onto the glorious sandy beach. Fans hoping to share breakfast with Harry Kane or Raheem Sterling will be disappointed – rooms have been booked for months.


On the beach just outside the England World Hotel

This is a “dry” hotel. The topic of alcohol has been endlessly debated in the run-up to the tournament, with many restrictions governing sales in Qatar.

Those who want a drink will not find it impossible, but things will be different from other tournaments. Alcohol is available in hotel bars, but not served outside of them, for example in restaurants or at the airport. There will be a fan zone in central Bidda Park, where alcohol will be served, albeit at set times.


The England team inside the hotel for the World Cup

Even in this laid-back, glamorous environment, it’s hard to escape the big questions looming over this World Cup – an investigation by the Guardian earlier this year in Doha found security guards who had paid extortionate recruitment wages and were working twelve-hour shifts. as £1 ($1.18) an hour.


It is half an hour’s drive north and in another part of the suburbs of Doha there is another stadium; This one is a little bigger, but looks very similar from the outside to the one where England will practice.

With SUVs driving up to the parking lot to get a coffee through the precincts, the loose roads stretching into the desert and the sweltering summer heat, the western suburbs of Doha feel a bit like the dusty South of the USA.

If you ignore the shrimps and the mosques and the Arabic and English signs, you may be in Arizona.

Thani bin Jassim Stadium is where the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) will train before taking on Wales, England and Iran in Group B.


Thani bin Jassim Stadium, USMNT training base

The stadium is usually home to Al-Gharafa, another Qatar Star League team with an illustrious past, winning seven league titles, but not since 2010. Famous names for the club include 1998 World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, Netherlands star Wesley Sneijder. and Costa Rican legend Paul Wanchope. Current players include Gabriel Pires, on loan from Benfica, and Jonathan Kodjia, formerly of Aston Villa and Bristol City.

The stadium may be heavily guarded when the USMNT arrives, but in July it’s easy to walk down the street uninvited and unannounced and look around the stadium and its buildings.

Although the Middle East is in constant turmoil, Qatar is a relatively safe country and the US military has its largest regional military presence at the massive Al Udeid Air Base just 30 minutes from the stadium.

Indoor sports on the same site and facilities include a large gymnasium (above), offices and other areas. There is also a tactical board system with rows of chairs from which players can listen to coach Gregg Berhalter’s instructions. With marble floors and lots of space inside Swich, the environments are noticeably larger than at Al Wakrah, while the medical center needed some work in July.


The medical room at the stadium was empty at the back when Athletica visited in July

Just to the north of Doha is Lusail, a “planned city” built over the past two decades with a spectacular skyline fit for a science-fiction movie.

Standing in front of Lusail in Doha’s shiny metro is Qatar University.

In high summer there is almost no one here to visit and the car park is empty under the elevated train tracks heading towards Doha and towards the new Lusail Stadium.

It’s a huge university and the facilities are new and shiny, although they don’t allow security guards at this time Athletic roam freely around the airport facilities.

Surprising that this site will soon play host to arguably the world’s greatest ever football game, as the Argentina team led by Lionel Messi will be based in the tournament here. Two other teams expected to challenge the business end of the tournament, Spain and the Netherlands, will also be based here, but the formation of different voices.

The complex will be a great space for all three to train without any interaction or listening to tactical instructions.


One voice training at Qatar University

All of these places will likely be under high security throughout the tournament itself to keep curious fans of the arts from disturbing the heroes appearing in some of the most important moments of their lives.

It is difficult to predict yet which stadium, beach hotel or university campus will become known to audiences around the world.

But when hundreds of the world’s best footballers pour into this modest city, it’s sure to see some drama on the scene in the training facilities as well as on the pitch.

(Top photo: Simon Holmes/NurPhoto via Getty Images)



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