Thousands of World Cup fans have been stranded in Morocco after Qatari authorities reportedly blocked Royal Air Maroc from operating flights to Doha ahead of a critical semifinal match later today.
Qatar Blocks Royal Air Maroc Flights To Doha
Today will be a football game for the ages. Morocco is playing its former colonial overlord France in a semifinal match steeped in history. Morocco represents the first Arab and first African team ever to make it into the semifinals after defeating Belgium, Spain, and Portugal.
Ahead of that match, Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) planned 3o additional flights between Casablanca (CMN) and Doha (DOH) in order to facilitate access for thousands of fans to take part in tonight’s match. Ultimately, only 14 flights were scheduled and only 10 were able to take off.
This morning, passengers found that their RAM flights to Doha were cancelled. RAM blamed Qatari authorities.
While Qatar has not officially commented on the cancellations, Al Jazeera suggests that the reason for the flight cancellations was that virtually none of the fans had tickets to the match, which has been sold out for months. Social media in Morocco has advised fans to simply get to Doha, where “free” tickets would be provided for the match. That was not the case, but reports of violence at Hamad International Airport and at Al-Bayt Stadium were widespread, with Moroccan fans trying to “force” their way into the stadium without tickets. These Moroccan fans also showed up to Qatar without hotel reservations during a period in which hotels are full.
In light of the scarcity of tickets and hotels, it has been suggested that Qatari authorities chose to rescind landing rights for these RAM flights, forcing their cancellations and leaving thousands of fans stranded and disappointed.
Royal Air Maroc has apologized for the flight cancellations and promised to refund unused tickets, though fans who had obtained match tickets or hotel reservations will be out of luck.
With 95% of fans from Morocco thought to be traveling to Doha without match tickets, Qatari authorities blocked several flights from taking off from Casablanca. Those fans will now have to watch tonight’s critical game against France from Safair, hoping the Atlas Lions will pull off another upset.
Something makes me think Qatari authorities wouldn’t have cancelled an additional 30 flights from France, but what do I know. FIFA knew what they were doing.
If you have followed the news, several European countries has been facing riots from Maroccans when winning. Keep an eye on Paris tonight, 5000 extra police deemed necessary. I do understand Qatar on this one.
In the grand scheme of things, how do tickets sell out for matches where it is not even known which teams will be in the match? I would think the majority of tickets for all the “unknown” matches (i.e. – quarters, semi’s, etc.) would not be sold until it is known which teams are in the match. It seems odd tickets were sold out months in advance for the match,
It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.
Wrong!! You buy the tickets for the World Cup months in advance and as the tournament goes you will know who plays against who. Nobody knows who will play in the final but almost tickets are sold way before. There will be a market for tickets in case someone bought a game and didn’t like the teams that will play but you definitely can’t just show up at the stadium and think you will easily get a ticket.
I get you just can’t show up at the gate. – that was not my point. But they don’t hold any back for purchase when the teams are known? I guess I would have expected some holdback. However, I don’t know much about how the World Cup runs, so it is what it is.
Usually all sold online or through travel agencies that put packages for fans together. You will know the first 3 games once they release the groups and that’s where most fans buy tickets to watch the guaranteed 3 games for each country but from there nobody knows who plays who. It is a big gamble.
Admittedly, “Just show up and it’ll all work out doesn’t seem like much of a plan.
Seems to work at the US border ok
Those disappointed Moroccan fans have even more to be disappointed about now.
Though their game against Croatia for “third place” on Saturday looks to be an interesting matchup.
Gonna be a rough night in some Paris neighborhoods tonight.
And eventually nothing bad happenned in the streets of Paris as usual…
Stop believing in Macron please!
Maby because of 5000 extra police. Have a look at Brussels, Montpellier, Nantes where there was not that amount deployed.
It has been the same after every match. Happy they are out not for their football but for their “fans”