DOHA ( Associated Press) — Chaos reigned at times on Sunday, the first day fans turned out to watch a game in a special area just for them in central Doha, where tens of thousands of people squeezed and pushed against a police cordon. ,
Fans sought entry at all costs to watch the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador in the sheltered area, where there are screens as well as places to buy beer.
Policemen with batons and shields were guarding the entrance. Some fans begged the police to let them go.
Immediately after the opening match of the World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador, played in Al Zor, another Qatari city, only a few pregnant women or people with disabilities were able to enter through the primary entrance.
“It’s too risky. People can die,” warned Hatem al-Bairari, an Iraqi national who said he works in Dubai. “There were old men and women. You can’t handle a crowd like this. Luckily I’m tall so I can breathe, but I saw some kids who couldn’t. People asked to pick them up.
Al-Bairari reported that he saw several men pushing each other and women crying.
“My family is inside. I can’t go see them anymore, I don’t know what to do,” he said.
Luis Reyes, a Mexican-American who lives in Los Angeles, compared the crowds to the scenes that shocked the world just a week earlier during a holiday in South Korea, where more than 150 people were killed.
“You can’t go forward or go back,” he explained. “I told my son: ‘Let’s go outside, it’s too dangerous!’
It was not clear whether there were any injuries or arrests.
The deployment of riot police came after similar incidents on Saturday night during a concert ahead of the World Cup. People then tried to make their way to the fan zone located in Al Bidda Park, which is located on Doha’s waterfront.