‘We paid £20 for two bottles of Heineken but it’s been fine’: Wales fans on Qatar so far

“These moments will be cherished for many, many years to come.”

AMONG the thousands who descended on the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium last night for the opening clash against the USA was one group of mates from Cardiff.

Dave Mico-Sherwood, 23, and Luc James, 22, along with three other pals, flew out on Sunday to Qatar to support Wales at the first World Cup match in most Welsh fans’ lifetimes.

Much of the media coverage of the tournament so far has rightly focused on the off-field issues, but what are the experiences of the average fan on the ground in Doha?

Here the friends tell The Cardiffian about their first impressions of the country and city, their accommodation and the availability of alcohol.

The group (from left to right) – Dave, Dylan, Finley, Eoghan, Luc.
Credit: David Mico-Sherwood

First Impressions

Like thousands of other Red Wall members, Dave and Luc regularly follow Wales home and away across the world.

Against the backdrop of pandemic travel restrictions, they were among the few to brave the trip to Azerbaijan for the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament last year.

They are therefore no strangers to watching football in unfamiliar surroundings.

And the Qatar that they’ve experienced isn’t wholly reflective of some of the narratives widely publicised back home.  

“So far I’ve found it fine. Everyone’s been so welcoming and it’s not been like anything reported on the news in the UK in the lead up,” said Luc, 22.  

“Of what we have seen so far it’s a developing country, lots of working sites and unfinished work but when you get into the centre of Doha it’s pretty surreal,” said Dave, 23.

Dave, Dylan and Finley outside the stadium.
Credit: David Mico-Sherwood.


The one thing they do find to be true of the pre-tournament portrayals of Qatar is the price of alcohol.

They confirm that it is ‘definitely’ expensive but is easily accessible in bars and hotels.

In their experience, prices range from £8-£11 for a pint of beer; although on the first night they paid £20 for two bottles of Heineken at one hotel bar.

“As long as you know your limits and don’t drink excessively there’s no issue with alcohol. Of course the only place you can’t get it is in the stadium, which doesn’t bother me too much,” says Luc.


Accommodation hasn’t provided the group with any issues, despite pre-tournament concerns of ‘tent cities’ housing fans.

They are staying in an apartment complex, organised through official Wales fan travel provider, Wonky Sheep.

Armband controversy reaction

A further story in the run-up to Wales first game was the decision by FIFA to threaten yellow cards for captains planning to wear a One Love armband.

The gesture was aimed at ‘promoting diversity and inclusion’ at a tournament whose hosts outlaw homosexuality.

FIFA’s last-minute change of stance – threatening sporting sanctions against players who wore them – resulted in member associations backtracking on their plans.

The FAW released a statement regarding the OneLove armband

Fans were unhappy with FIFA’s approach but many were unsurprised.

“It’s poor but always expected with how FIFA try to run things. As seen on social media, fans with rainbow hats were denied entry which was a shame,” Dave said.  

“The lead up to the tournament with them (FIFA) saying everything will be fine is all coming out to be a pretty big lie.”

“Their culture and beliefs are different to what we’ve been brought up knowing. I disagree with a lot of what goes on here but I feel stuff like the idea of these armbands is just too little too late,” Luc added.

“Qatar were awarded the World Cup 12 years ago. These issues should have been raised then.”

Match Reaction

Dave and Luc, from the Thornhill and Heath areas of the capital, were happy with Wales’ first World Cup result in 64 years and both agreed that Kieffer Moore was the game-changer.

The boys fly the flag at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Credit: David Mico-Sherwood

The game started with what, in Luc’s opinion, was the ‘worst first half of football’ he’d ever seen Wales play.

“They looked nervous and maybe the occasion got to them at the beginning so I wasn’t surprised we went 1-0 down,” he said.

“But second half Kieffer coming on changed the game and I felt we could have gone on to win and probably should have. But this now just means the Iran game is so important.”

“A win there is crucial for getting out the group. It’ll be a tough task but four points minimum may be enough.”

Dave heaped praised on one man in particular, Neco Williams, who he described as ‘brilliant all game.’

The 21-year-old Wrexham-born wing-back’s battling performance was even more impressive amid the circumstances surrounding his selection.  

Williams had learned of the passing of his grandfather less than 24 hours before the biggest game of his career and managed to prove a threat as Wales heaped the pressure on in the second half.

Neco Williams opens up after the game

Williams desire to play in such difficult circumstances was due in part to the importance of the occasion, and the opportunities provided by World Cup qualification is not lost on the group of friends from Cardiff.

“The importance of the platform this gives us as a nation to promote the language and educate the world that us and England are two separate nations is huge,” said Luc.

“The World Cup, as the biggest tournament in the world of football, is perfect for this.”

Wales on the big stage.
Credit: David Mico-Sherwood.

“The fact that it’s Wales, such a small nation that’s been written off so many times, along with the story of how far we’ve come to get to this point shows how big an achievement this is.”

“These moments will be cherished for many, many years to come.”