Due to the short distance between the stadiums, the Qatar 2022 World Cup, in the previous one, offered the possibility of being able to enjoy more than one game on each day. Then, obviously, different setbacks had to be overcome, starting from the difficulty of obtaining seats. The Argentinian Carlos Diaz Calvi he managed in different ways and he succeeded: not only did he enjoy all the matches of the Argentine National Team from the audience, but he also he was present in 38 World Cup matches.
To achieve this, Carlos, who was born in Corrientes and who since 1999 has lived in different countries around the world (Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Chile and the United States) for work, used all his knowledge as a systems graduate.
With the unsuccessful experience in the raffle of tickets that FIFA made for Russia 2018, for Qatar created 1,200 accounts and scheduled all their data to be automatically uploaded. His expectation was to obtain tickets for four or five matches, including one from Argentina.
But in the draw received more than 300 entries.
“Obviously I couldn’t pay for all of them. Many of those packages were from Argentina-Mexico, so I kept my ticket, I gave another 10 to my friends and the rest I exchanged for other tickets. I got 40 tickets. Knowing that later the tickets for Argentina-Mexico sold much more expensive, perhaps I could have resold them, but that’s not my thing, my thing was to see the World Cup,” Carlos told Clarionwith the Khalifa International Stadium in the background, where he witnessed -among other matches- England’s 6-2 win against Iran, by Group B.
– Didn’t you resell any tickets?
– No. I did exchange tickets for accommodation. There were Argentines who needed to go to Argentina-Mexico and, since it was difficult to send money from Argentina, they offered me accommodation for two weeks there in Barwa. Then it also happened to me from getting 26 or 27 tickets from the barter, and since I became quite well known in Discord and WhatsApp groups for having so many tickets, I created a Discord group with more than 500 people, mostly from India. They offered to get me Category 4 tickets at a very cheap price, those tickets are only for locals. I got them for $8 a game.
– When did you start with the idea of breaking the record of Thulani Ngcobo, the South African who watched 31 games in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?
– At first the idea was not to go to all the games, but to choose. But several told me about the record that it was in 31 games. And I said ‘Since I have 40 tickets, I’m alone, and my wife is going to make me pay for this at some point, I’m going to try to go to all the games that she can because I enjoy it’. That’s how it came about. I had 38 games left in total, and I decided to go to as many as I could.
– How was going from one game to another?
– I started the opening day, and it was complicated because it was not very clear yet. Many did not know that stadium-to-stadium buses exist, which probably added them over the end. They said that there were not going to be buses in consecutive matches, that FIFA did not authorize them, but they do exist. I spent my time running, queuing in and out.
– Did you see all the full matches?
– Yes, at most at the beginning I retired minutes before the end. It takes time to understand how well the entire transport system works, the distances. I happened to come to this stadium to see England-Iran and when the game was 4-1 I said ‘It’s a good time to go to the Netherlands-Senegal on the other side of the city’. I left and arrived perfect, just as the game started, but I missed two more England goals. And when I was in the Netherlands-Senegal I had to go to another game, but I stayed until the 90th minute, because the goal was at 88′. There I knew that I could miss several goals by not staying until the end of the games and I began to handle that a little better.
– How did you decide when to leave?
– When the match was closer, I decided to stay, even though I would be late for other matches. Later I found the return to the transport and there I was able to be the 90 minutes in almost all the parties.
– What was the best match you saw?
– From how I lived it, that we all became Japanese fans, I would tell you that it was Germany-Japan. After that of Argentina-Australia… The country also weighs a lot, what was suffered with Poland and before with Mexico. If I have to say another I would say Germany-Japan, or even South Korea-Ghana. Then I had tickets for matches that I thought would not be interesting, but ended up being the best, like Serbia-Cameroon for example.
– Do you regret a meeting that you could not see?
– The games that I missed were to get to the previous one of those in Argentina. I missed important matches, like France-Denmark, but I didn’t want to miss the party and the previous flag-waving. Then I missed the occasional game that ended 0-0. I could see all the rest.
– Was it ever difficult for you to keep up with this rhythm?
– I ended up hospitalized after Argentina’s match with Poland. He was already speechless after shouting the goals against Mexico, because we did not know if he had camel flu, or if he had Covid. In the end I had nothing, but I found out that there were a lot of us who passed by, so at some point the number of people who got sick in this World Cup will be in the news. From so much walking and running buses, after the game against Poland I went to the hospital and ended up hospitalized for four hours, doing some tests and with more than one medication.
– And the most beautiful stadium?
– The best stadium in the World Cup almost without a doubt, and although they are all very nice and good, it is Al Bayt. It’s in the desert, in the north of Qatar, and I think it’s the best because of the exterior architecture, it’s very pretty.
– What do your relatives, your friends tell you?
– My wife thinks I’m crazy, that with this I’m going to get tired of football, but I think not. My friends from Corrientes are very happy that I am living this experience, that I can live my first World Cup. They think I’m crazy, but it’s pretty crazy.
Carlos, who has published 12 novels and likes to present himself as a “novelist who works in systems”, enjoyed Qatar 2022 until the round of 16 and has already left for Houston, USA, where he currently resides, to reunite with his wife, his daughter and his son and thus resume his work activity as a project manager for large oil companies.
“Now I’m going to continue supporting the Argentine National Team on television”he assured, happy to have fulfilled a life dream.
Doha, Qatar. Special envoys.