Wales at the World Cup 2022: What is it really like inside Qatar's fan village?

  • Steve Ward from Pontypridd is already in Qatar, exploring the Wales fan village

Thousands of football fans boarded their flight to Qatar this weekend ahead of Wales' first match in the World Cup.

Millions more are expected to tune in at home and even a couple of thousand supporters are headed to Tenerife to watch the games.

But at the heart of the tournament is Doha and the Red Wall has begun filling up the fan village in the Middle East.

Steve Ward travelled from Pontypridd and opted for one of the cheaper accommodations on offer at a fan cabin.

He is staying in the Fan Village Cabins in Ras Bu Fontas.

"Lots of fans arriving at the reception now. Initial impression of the fan zones are that it's ok. People were sceptic about coming here, but it's actually ok," he said.

"In all honesty, it's not too bad. It's nice and clean and it's all brand new, so we're happy with what we paid for."

Wales supporters will be filling up their fan zone in Doha ahead of the team's first game on Monday 21 November.

Plenty of other Welsh fans have already settled into Qatar.

Jane Roberts and husband Gareth Roberts, from Llandudno, flew from Manchester on 19 November. They are spending the first three nights on a cruise ship in Doha.

Speaking to ITV News before they flew, Mr Roberts said it was a "no brainer" that they would be travelling to the Middle East after following the team "avidly since 2016".

Mrs Roberts said the event will be "particularly emotional" for her because her late-father is not here to see it happen. He played football all his life and would take her to see as many games as possible.

"It is going to be a massive occasion for us and it's particularly emotional for me because my father was a massive Wales supporter," she said.

"He came from Pwllheli, he then went on to play for Nefyn. He was a big fan of Wrexham and Prestatyn football clubs and for him not to know we're going there, it's so emotional to me.

  • Jane and husband Gareth Roberts from Llandudno said it was a "no brainer" that they would go to Qatar to cheer on Wales

"It would have been incredible for him, he never saw Wales rise to the heights they have now, in the Euros for example and now the World Cup.

"He never saw Wales get to a major when that national anthem comes on in the stadium, I'm crying straight away, thinking of him."

Having never been to Qatar before, the pair said they are not sure what to expect.

Gareth and Jane left the UK for Doha on Saturday morning. Credit: Jane Roberts

Mr Roberts said: "It's still a little bit of a mystery, I'm not entirely sure what we're going to encounter when we get there. I just assume everything will be normal for us.

"We can't not go in t-shirts and shorts and we do like a drink so I assume that will all be we don't really know what to expect in that respect."

They both agreed that on the topics of the treatment of migrant workers and those who identify as LGBTQ+, perhaps shining a spotlight on Qatar by hosting the World Cup there may actually "be beneficial in the long-run".

The husband and wife will also be joined by their children out there and are looking forward to witnessing a historic moment for Wales.

Mrs Roberts added: "Apart from having my two children and marrying Gareth, this could be the highlight of our lives going to Qatar and I'm confident we may get through the first 16. We could get to the quarter final."

Mr and Mrs Roberts are optimistic Wales could make it through the first 16. Credit: Jane Roberts

A number of chartered flights left from Cardiff Airport on Sunday (November 20) heading for the Middle East.

With most wearing the new informal match-day uniform - the bucket hat - excitement was in the air.

One fan explained: "The last time we qualified I was minus 2! So I've never been to a World Cup. I follow Wales. So it's absolutely brilliant, wonderful."

Whilst another said: "Let's just go out there and enjoy it. First time since 1958. So here we go!"

As well as their very own red wall in the airport, a giant bucket hat was on display to mark the occasion.

Asked if Wales can make it out of the group stages, one fan said: "I'd give us about a 70% chance I'd say. I think a lot depends on tomorrow's result. If we can get something out of that one, that will set the team up for success."

  • Hundreds of fans boarded flights from Cardiff on Sunday 20 November, to get to Qatar before Wales' first game

More than a thousand Wales fans have instead opted to travel to Tenerife to watch the tournament - as a cheaper alternative to flying to Qatar.

A Facebook group with more than 2,000 members included posts from people across Wales, sharing their plans to cheer on their team from the Spanish island.

And that cheering will officially begin on Monday 21 November when Wales face USA. The game will be shown in the UK on ITV1, with kick-off at 7pm and coverage beginning just after 6pm.