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

After walking up the steps of the Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium to look down on the unsightly green, the prospect of a football match was not pleasant. It’s too hot to be outside for more than 10 or 15 minutes at the peak of the day.

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

With the white houses visible on the low stands before disappearing into the blackness of the desert and the sound of the call to prayer as the clock strikes 4pm, the the setting is a reminder that this World Cup will be very different.

Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium

Competition in Qatar is affected by disputes and human rights concerns, such as The Athletic be explored while visiting eight of the country’s stadiums as it prepares for the world to come to town.

And when visiting the playgrounds, The Athletic He thought it would be useful to visit some of the World Cup training grounds for more information about the players to see their arrival.

By the time The Athletic visit in July, a car-free tour surrounding the stadium where England train. Many food and drink stalls are open even though there aren’t many people around.

They allow visitors to pull up in their air-conditioned cars to grab a sandwich or an iced coffee in the heat of the day. One coffee shop is run by Filipino workers Cecile and Kane.

Kane, of course, shares his name with England captain Harry who is training on the pitch immediately behind his shop. At first, he said he had never heard of her, but after he was shown the picture, he said without a doubt that he might be familiar. He is not a big football player, he loves basketball, like many of his compatriots.

The two women had no idea the England team were coming here, but they watched a game recently at one of Qatar’s new stadiums after the competition’s organizers gave away free tickets. to citizens to test the devices.

Cecile and Kane make a coffee stop near Saoud bin Abdulrahman stadium

The Qataris are a small part of the population of a country that has brought in workers in large numbers in recent years to prepare for the World Cup. Change is amazing, it has come at a human cost. Migrant workers from many countries were exploited, injured and, in the worst cases, lost their lives.

Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium is not one of the new constructions, but an old and small building. It is home to Al Wakrah SC, who came third in the Qatar Stars League last season and won it in 1999 and 2001.

Few of the team’s current players are known outside of the Middle East, but the first star to win a World Cup is Frank Leboeuf, who played 10 games for the club in 2004-05. ; Former Premier League players Youssef Chippo and Alain Goma; and Alan Waddle, the journeyman, cousin of England legend Chris, who had a brief stint in 1986.

The site has training facilities and a gym. Table football is in the lanes. There is also a restaurant with leather chairs and a large screen poster that will soon be used for presentations.

The house is equipped with table football

The main screen is in the canteen

It’s a lot of fun, but not pretty, and it’s a long way from the homes of Premier League clubs, although things are very different now compared to the summer when the construction works are going on.

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

Most of the population lives in the capital city of Doha, with seven of the eight stadiums located on the Doha Metro system. The eighth, Al Bayt, is a 25-minute drive from the nearest Metro station.

Both teams of the World Cup will be based around Doha.

An exception to the Doha round is Germany. The 2014 winners will travel to the Zulal Wellness Resort in the northern part of the country, an 80-minute drive north of the capital.

Belgium are already the envy of their European rivals’ training ground, with the idea that more travel for each game would be better for the benefit of a team hotel and a training ground.

The side of Roberto Martinez found another option in Hilton Salwa in the south-west region of the country, which is far from the border of Qatar with Saudi Arabia, a country suitable for the competition.

Reserves are allocated according to a first-come-first-served system, and each training ground and hotel must be approved by FIFA’s independent inspection service.

Teams were asked to enter their first, second and third picks, and whoever requested the first and fastest pick was awarded their pick.

This does not stop the last riots – in 2018, Brazil changed their mind a week earlier. It didn’t help them, going down 2-1 to Belgium in the quarter-finals, four years on from a 7-1 home defeat to Germany in the semi-final.

Each company has different reasons – the price, the proximity to the city and the atmosphere, or the memory – some people will not tell their preferred reason before getting it if They “jinx”.

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of central Doha is exciting for some.

Such is the case for England’s team hotel, the Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by Tivoli, on the shores of the Persian Gulf, a short drive from the stadium where they train.

By the time The Athletic visited, we were welcomed by the staff and we were able to take pictures without turning around.

The area is beautiful with separate low-rise buildings giving the players plenty of time to relax between training sessions and games.

England is the World Cup host

There are health facilities, a well-equipped gym, and the hotel opens directly onto the beautiful sandy beach. Those hoping to share breakfast with Harry Kane or Raheem Sterling will be disappointed – rooms have not been available to book for months.

The beach outside the England World Cup hotel

This is a “dry” hotel. The topic of alcohol has been debated in the upcoming tournament, with many restrictions on its sale in Qatar.

Those who love the drink do not know that it is impossible but things will be different in other competitions. Alcohol is available in hotel bars but not served outside of them, for example in airport restaurants. There will be a bar in the middle of Bidda Park where alcohol will be served, albeit at limited times.

Inside the England team hotel for the World Cup

Even in this relaxed and beautiful place, it is difficult to escape the big questions hanging over this World Cup – an investigation by the Guardian earlier this year found security guards working in Doha paid extortionate rents while working 12-hour shifts. Just £1 ($1.18) an hour.

Half an hour’s drive north across the Doha campus is another stadium; this is much bigger but it looks like from the outside it’s a place to study in England.

With SUVs driving by to get iced coffee, wide open desert roads and scorching summer heat, Doha’s west looks like the dusty South West of the USA. .

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

The 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 Scholarship, USMNT

The stadium is usually the home of Al-Gharafa, a Qatar Stars League club with a famous past, it has won seven league titles, but not since 2010. Famous names that played for the team including 1998 World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, Netherlands star Wesley Sneijder and Costa Rica legend Paulo Wanchope. Current players include Gabriel Pires, on loan from Benfica, and Jonathan Kodjia, formerly of Aston Villa and Bristol City.

The stadium will be heavily guarded when the USMNT comes, but in July it’s easy to walk in from the street, uninvited or unknown, and look around the stadium and its surroundings. house

Although the Middle East is constantly on the rise, Qatar is a safe country and the US military has a large local military base at the Al Udeid Air Base just 30 minutes from the stadium.

There is a sports center within the same site and facilities include a large gymnasium (above), offices and rest areas. There is also a field table with rows of seats where the players can listen to the instructions of coach Gregg Berhalter. With swish marble floors and plenty of interior space, the surroundings are bigger than Al Wakrah, although the clinic needed some work in July.

The treatment room at the stadium was not full when The Athletic visited in July

North of Doha is Lusail, a “planned city” that was designed and built two years ago, like a science-fiction movie.

The stop in front of Lusail on the Doha Metro is Qatar University.

Visiting in the height of summer there are almost no people here and the car parks under the elevated motorways leading back to Doha and the new Lusail Stadium are empty.

The university is large and the facilities are new and shiny, although a security guard does not allow this time. The Athletic wander around the inner houses.

This awesome site will soon welcome the world’s greatest footballers, as an Argentina side captained by Lionel Messi will be based here for the tournament. Two other sides expected to compete at the business end of the tournament, Spain and the Netherlands, will also be based here, but train on different pitches.

There is a lot of difficulty so there is a place for all three to practice without getting in the way or hearing advice.

One of the internships at Qatar University

These areas are under high security during the competition itself to keep fans from disturbing their heroes who are preparing for one of the biggest moments of their lives.

It is difficult to predict which stadium, hotel on the beach or university campus will be recognized by people around the world.

But when hundreds of the world’s best footballers come to this small town, we’re sure to see some drama behind the training ground and on the pitch.

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


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