Vietnamese fans splurge on watching football World Cup

By Hoang Nguyen, Xanh LeNovember 20, 2022 | 02:36 am PT
After failing to find a cheap deal to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, Phan Le Tung decided to splash money on watching three games there.

"I started searching online and saw a partner of FIFA in Vietnam who was selling tickets. My friends and I bought tickets for three games in the second-most expensive range, called the match pavilion. They cost $1,900 each. We will get a welcome service, they’ll give us food, beverage and gifts, and of course, our own space in the stadium," Tung said.

But, apart from the tickets, Tung has to find accommodation as well. There are not many hotels in Qatar, so finding rooms turned into an intense battle as they were selling out very fast. Tung will spend about VND380 million ($15,317) on accommodation for five days to watch three World Cup games in Qatar, taking his total expenses for the trip to a minimum of VND500 million ($20,155).

Tung and three other friends said they spent big on buying VIP tickets because they couldn’t purchase standard ones on the FIFA website.

View of signage in Doha, Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Photo by Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

View of signage in Doha, Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Photo by Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

Asked about the hefty average price tag of VND100 million ($4000) a day, Tung said it was worth the money because football was his passion.

"We are extremely passionate fans of football who have been in love with this sport since childhood. We still play football regularly and always support the Vietnam national football team. We watch and follow almost every tournament in European and world football. There have been some competitions where I didn’t miss a single match," he said.

Not as "lucky" like as Tung, Khanh from Hanoi couldn’t book a room in Qatar, so he decided to stay in Dubai and fly to Qatar to watch one game.

"I decided to go this time because I have a friend in the UK. He and his brother will fly from the UK to Qatar and I will fly from Vietnam, then the three of us will go watch the game together," Khanh said.

Because hotels in Qatar are very expensive, Khanh will stay in a Dubai hotel and fly to Qatar when it’s game time. After watching one match, he will fly back to Vietnam.

Although Khanh will only watch just one game in the round of 16, it will cost him around VND100 million for a three-day trip. But, he said, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see his favorite players on the field.

"I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time. Maybe this is the only time that I will get to watch the World Cup in the stadium," he said.

The 2022 World Cup, held November 20-December 18 in Qatar, is being hosted during the winter season for the first time in history. This tournament will also be the last to feature 32 teams as the number will increase to 48 for the 2026 edition.

Millions of Vietnamese fans who can’t afford to go to Qatar are still excited and eager about watching the biggest football event on the planet on the small screen.

Some of them are spending big on watching the games in style.

Nguyen Tuan Lam, 31, has printed the World Cup schedule and hung it on his wall. He has also bought a brand new 65-inch 4K TV to have the best World Cup experience at home.

"My friends will come here regularly to watch the tournament. I also bought a Playstation 5 so we can play football games together. It is not every year that we get to see the World Cup. This year the matches will be broadcast at ideal hours like 5 p.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., which is perfect for get-togethers."

Many football groups had become very active as the World Cup neared. On Facebook and other social platforms, young people have welcomed the event in many ways including changing their profile photos to that of their favorite teams or players and making predictions on match results.

Some have spread do-good messages like "say no to football betting" or "stay healthy after watching the matches."

Lam said all he cares about is enjoying the games with his friends and watching his favorite players shine at the World Cup.

"This World Cup may be the last international tournament for two of the biggest legends in the game, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, which makes it even more special. Although I couldn’t go to Qatar, I think this big TV screen will compensate for that."

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