Six of the best for England but ticket ‘carnage’ for fans at stadium
England secured a comfortable 6-2 win against Iran to get their World Cup campaign up and running in Qatar, amid “carnage” off the pitch for some fans trying to enter the stadium.
Jude Bellingham’s 35th-minute header silenced the raucous Iranian fans inside the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, before England extended their lead thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling.
Saka’s second and goals from Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish sealed the win.
But it was not all plain sailing off the pitch as several fans heading to the group B fixture endured ticketing problems as they attempted to enter the stadium, with some missing part of the game.
Concerns were also raised about the availability of food within the stadium.
With the 4pm local time kick-off approaching, some supporters were frantically refreshing the official ticketing mobile app on their phones in a bid to have their QR code load.
This left them enduring some stressful and frustrating moments, with a group of England fans also seen arguing with officials as they kept being told entry to the queue was closed and repeatedly moved down to another entrance.
One England fan said they should have “just used paper tickets” and criticised the organisation at the stadium.
A PA news agency reporter heading in with a ticket found their ticket app only started working about 60 seconds before they reached the front of the queue having failed to work in the previous couple of hours.
Fifa acknowledged some fans were experiencing issues while Free Lions, the Football Supporters’ Association team that provides travel and logistical advice to fans, also offered guidance.
Ali Azarian, 42, an Iranian-Brit based in Singapore, who said he had “divided loyalties” for the game, got into the ground around five minutes before half-time.
He said he arrived three hours before kick-off but the tickets “disappeared” from the Fifa app.
He told PA: “At the gate they wouldn’t let us in even though we had the email confirmations.
“They sent us over to some ticket liaison office, they then sent us to a Fifa tent where there were about 500 people.
“We queued up for ages, there was a lot of controversy because someone from Fifa came out and told people they could use the email to go back into the queue.
A strong start to the #FIFAWorldCup for @England! 👊 #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/q7uW61H7ER
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 21, 2022
“Those folks left the queue and were told the same thing we were told and they came back so it was just carnage.
“We stuck with it, eventually they started writing manual tickets, they printed tickets and they manually wrote our seats down and then everyone was just sprinting to the ground.
“There were probably at least 100 people behind me.”
Wales play the US on Monday evening as they experience their first World Cup finals since 1958.