Britons will enjoy a festival of World Cup football today as Wales and England both play crunch matches that coincide with payday for millions back home with bosses set to let staff watch the matches or face a slew of sickies.
The Welsh could make history this morning if they beat Iran with England set to qualify for the knock out stages if they defeat the USA in the big match at 7pm tonight.
Millions of Britons will watch the two matches today with many schoolchildren in Wales given a break from lessons to watch Gareth Bale and his teammates play at 10am.
Football-mad workers in the UK have been throwing ‘sickies’ at record rates so they can watch World Cup matches, employers are claiming. Businesses have been flocking to legal advisers amid concerns staff are taking rogue days off, with today unlikely to be any different give the magnitude of the two matches.
England fan Ben Parson, from Fulham, and Lucy White, 24 from York, with her dad, Chris are in Doha to cheer on England
Thousands of Welsh fans are in Doha and will be hoping for a big win for Rob Page’s men
Wales fans were in the pub for breakfast and some pints this morning ahead of the early kick off. And with four matches today, many will make a day of it, especially if Rob Page’s men get the win they need.
An estimated 10,000 English and Welsh fans are in Doha for the matches and were drinking late into the night last night ahead of their games today. Some have spent their £50,000 life savings to be in Qatar where a chicken burger and a pint is costing fans £50.
Welsh fans are set to MISS Iran World Cup match after ‘glitch in the system’ sees them turned away at Dubai airport
Scores of Wales fans are set to miss the crucial World Cup match against Iran after a ‘glitch in the system’ has seen them turned away at Dubai airport.
At least 70 Welsh fans have been told they cannot enter Qatar, meaning they will miss today’s match.
A ‘glitch in the system’ at Dubai airport has meant that their Hayya cards, which act as Qatar visas, have not been accepted by officials.
At Dubai airport this morning, a group of 78 Welsh fans were turned away and will miss the match in Qatar, reports BBC Radio Wales.
A number of fans have been staying in Dubai during the World Cup and then travelling into Qatar on shuttle flights due to how expensive the accommodation is in Doha and the country’s alcohol restrictions.
Darren Camill, 53, said that by the time he gets home he will have spent around £9,000 following the England team in Qatar. He added: ‘I’ve been to a few major tournaments with England but this is the most expensive ever. I paid £50 for a chicken burger and chips the other day which is normal in Doha.’
He is in Qatar with his friend Karl Hanson, 53 who said: ‘We’re going to nine games in total so that’s £1,000 per game. If England win today
England fans will be praying that Harry Kane is fully fit after an injury scare this week when he hurt his ankle during the Three Lions’ 6-2 win over the Iranians.
One legal firm says it’s had a 250 per cent surge in inquiries from bosses about their legal position if they suspect employees are bunking off.
Chris Macwilliam at Clough & Willis Solicitors said it had a spike in calls after England’s 6-2 win against Iran on Monday. A YouGov poll found 11million employees could take a dodgy day off during the Qatar World Cup.
Welsh fans will be able to wear their rainbow bucket hats, after FIFA stepped in after the Qatari authorities began seizing them at their last match amid tensions about their treatment of LGBT people.
Bale will make his own history by becoming his country’s most capped men’s footballer against Iran.
Gareth Southgate’s England have their fate in their own hands and will qualify from the group stages a game early if they beat the Americans at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Around 5,000 Wales fans are in Doha.
William Steeds, 50 from Aberystwyth beamed: ‘We’re so excited. We desperately need a win and I’m getting very nervous. The boys did us proud in the last match and I’m sure they won’t let us down.’
His pal, James Watson, 48 added: ‘We’re favourites to beat Iran but that’s not good for us because we like being the underdogs. I’m very excited and nervous but we’re going to sing our hearts out for the lads.
Like many other fans in Qatar, the Welsh have spent thousands of pounds on their trips.
Businessman Mr Sterds said: ‘It’ll cost me £5,000 by the time I get home which is a lot of money for two weeks. But this is an historic World Cup for us so we had to be here.
Mr Watson added: ‘ It’s one of the most expensive countries in the world but if we do well in this World Cup it will have been worth it.
‘This is one of the most exciting chapters in Welsh football history so we had to witness it.’
Darren Camill (right) with Karl Hanson (left) paid £50 for a pint and a chicken burger in Doha, but insist it will be worth it if England win tonight
Welsh fans at the Corniche Walk Park, Qatar, ahead of Wales’ second Group B game against Iran
Gareth Bale, Ethan Ampadu and Neco Williams on the pitch before the match
Wales manager Rob Page soaks up the atmosphere
Three Welsh fans maintained that their two-week trip to the World Cup will have cost them a mere £1,000 which is relatively cheap by local standards.
Gareth Murphy, 30, Tomos Williams, 30 and Joe Lavin, 28 revealed that they are staying in Dubai and flying in for games and returning immediately after.
Mr Murphy added: ‘It’s the cheapest way to do it. Qatar is just too expensive for ordinary people like us.
‘It’s been 64 years since we were last in a World Cup so we wanted to be here but had to do it a bit on the cheap.’
Mr Lavin added: ‘I’m very nervous for Wales but it feels wonderful to be here.’
Gareth Bale has urged teachers in Wales to let children watch a World Cup ‘mini history lesson’ in Qatar.
Wales’ second game of the 2022 World Cup kicks off at 10am GMT on Friday when children are in class.
The PA news agency revealed earlier this month that children had been given the green light to support Robert Page’s side.
The Welsh Government has left it up to individual schools to decide whether to allow children to watch the game, and Bale wants as many of them as possible to do so.
Bale said: ‘Being a 10am kick-off in Wales, if I was one of the teachers, I’d let them watch the game.
‘I hope they do. It’s a historical moment in Wales, for us to be at a World Cup.
‘Some of the parents of kids I know all want to watch the game but don’t want to take them off school.
‘So I think a lot of schools will put the game on for them to cheer us on and get behind us.
‘It’s a mini history lesson, and hopefully it’ll be a great occasion for all of them.’
Gareth Bale’s Wales and Harry Kane’s England both play matches at the Qatar World Cup today
ales players stand for the national anthem prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match with the USA
England’s players stand during the national anthem before the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match with Iran
Bale will make his own history by becoming his country’s most capped men’s footballer against Iran.
The 33-year-old captain – who made his debut in 2006 and is Wales’ record scorer with 41 goals – will win his 110th cap against Iran.
It will see him overtake Chris Gunter, who will be among the substitutes for Friday’s encounter, and move him into top spot in his own right.
Bale said: ‘I haven’t really been focusing on the cap thing to be honest, just trying to focus on the game.
‘On a personal level it’s an amazing achievement, it’s an honour to represent my country so many times.
‘But it’s more important that we try and get the victory. Hopefully we can and it’ll make it even more special.’
Joe Allen rejoined the main group on Wednesday and has recovered from a hamstring problem.
The 72-times-capped Allen, who was injured playing for Swansea on September 17, had been training on his own in Qatar until that point.
‘Joe got through his fitness test, so that’s good news,’ said manager Page, who is set to hand Kieffer Moore a starting spot after the striker came off the bench to spark Wales’ revival in Monday’s 1-1 draw against the United States.
‘He’s fit and raring to go. We had to meet targets along the way and they’ve met every target.’
Bale added: ‘Joe is a massive player for us and doesn’t get credit he deserved. He’s a vital cog in the way we play.
‘To have him available is a massive boost for us with two games remaining, so hopefully he can come on or start and he’ll do what Joe Allen does best and cover every blade of grass.
‘I think he’s shown time and again how important he is and we hope he has a few miles left to go.’
Harry Kane and Harry Maguire are fit and raring to go for England’s crucial World Cup clash against the USA tonight after recovering from injury and illness.
The duo have handed a major boost to manager Gareth Southgate who yesterday insisted the pair will be available.
England captain Kane went for a scan after taking a blow to his ankle against Iran on Monday but was cleared to resume training on Wednesday.
Southgate said: ‘Harry’s good, he came through training with no problems — it would be a brave decision to leave him out of the starting team. He’s in a good space. Definitely.
‘We managed him a little bit last week through training because of the load he has had so we’re always conscious of that. Some players need a little bit more training, some might do half a session, it depends on what their individual load has been.
‘Some haven’t played as much football and need pushing a bit more at times so we’re always individually preparing that.’
Maguire is also ready to start in an unchanged side tonight after recovering from an illness that saw him substituted against Iran.
There was concern the defender was suffering from concussion but a thorough investigation from England medics and FIFA — who have analysed numerous camera angles — ensured he had not taken a blow to the head.
‘We think an element of that was dehydration,’ said Southgate. ‘Because of the awareness of concussion we’ve checked back through all of that really diligently and FIFA have as well, because it’s one of the key things from their medical department in this tournament. There’s no evidence of that but you still want to check that because he was feeling unwell and why was that?’
James Maddison again did not train with the rest of the squad.
Southgate also confirmed that the FA have been in contact with FIFA over their concerns about VAR in the 6-2 win over Iran.
Maguire was denied a penalty after being rugby tackled by Rouzbeh Cheshmi in the first half, but Iran were awarded one via VAR later on after John Stones was caught slightly pulling striker Morteza Pouraliganji’s shirt.
The England camp were angered by the decision not to award a penalty for the Maguire incident — particularly after an incident in the box involving Kalvin Phillips, from England’s 5-0 win over Albania last November, was used as an example of foul play in a video shown to officials before the World Cup. This had led to fears England would be unfairly targeted by referees in Qatar.
The FA have filed a report to FIFA and await their response.
Stones said: ‘We sat in a refereeing meeting before the tournament and told certain things and my frustration is when those don’t get backed up. That’s difficult because we try to adapt our game to the way they want to ref things. I understand they have a super-difficult job nowadays with all the cameras but there has to be a bit of clarity.’
England fans in Qatar BANNED from dressing up as St George for World Cup match against USA because the Crusader outfit is ‘offensive to Muslims’
England fans dressed as Crusaders have been turned away from World Cup matches in Qatar as their costumes are deemed ‘offensive to Muslims’.
Two fancy-dress knights were allegedly seen on social media trying to get through security before England’s match with Iran on Monday while wearing chainmail and helmets bearing the St George’s Cross.
It is claimed that the pair, who were also carrying novelty swords, were escorted away by four officers at the security gate before kick-off.
And a similar experience could be in store for those attending tonight’s match against the USA, with the Times reporting Three Lions fans have been banned from dressing as the Christian invaders.
It comes as England fans, who have long supported the team bearing the garb of St George – the nation’s patron saint – at previous World Cups, find themselves in trouble for doing so this time around.
FIFA and anti-racism groups say dressing up as Crusaders in an Arab country such as Qatar could be seen as offensive given the historical context.
Some Doha residents appear to have been upset by the choice of outfit, given the religious wars between 1095 and 1291 were about taking land and holy sites under Islamic control.
England fans dressed as Crusaders with chainmail, shields and swords are stopped by security outside a stadium in Qatar
An England fan dressed as a Crusader kneels at a security check at the World Cup in Qatar
Prince William tells England squad to avoid social media
Sam Greenhill, Chief Reporter in Doha
England coach Gareth Southgate last night revealed Prince William’s advice to the squad – avoid social media.
He said the heir to the throne gave invaluable tips when they met before flying out to Qatar.
Southgate said the team were following his counsel to focus on matches rather than headlines and social media distractions.
He said: ‘We really like our base camp – we don’t have televisions on particularly, other than for matches.
‘Of course I’m sure the lads are following stuff on social media and the internet but we have talked from time to time about the importance of ignoring those things.
‘We actually had the future king come in and talk to the lads about that, which was a point we couldn’t have paid him better to say, about dealing with social media.’
Saluting his squad ahead of today’s England-USA clash, Southgate added: ‘These players are putting our country on the map – they are regaining our respectability on the world stage and we’ve got to keep doing that.’
One of the crusaders spoke to TalkTV after England’s 6-2 win over Iran on Monday.
The man, who was not named, said: ‘The problem is in places like Qatar, the fans are the essence of the game. We are what makes the game.
‘It’s not the corporates, they help financially in the background, it’s us the fans that make the football and we are the football’.
He said that they were staying in the fan park paying £250-a-night.
FIFA said: ‘Crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims. That is why Anti-Discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress.’
Kick It Out, the anti-racism campaign group in football said: ‘Certain attire, such as fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders, may not be welcomed in Qatar.
Researcher Robert Carter tweeted: ‘The attire, complete with swords and crosses, is offensive due to crusader history of rape, slaughter and occupation of Arab lands.’
But some England fans in Qatar pointed out that a cheering Saudi Arabia fan was apparently allowed to wave a real three-foot long scimitar in jubilation among crowds outside the stadium after his team’s shock win over Argentina.
The best-known Crusades took place between 1096 and 1291 when Christian armies fought to seize Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule.
Footage from Qatar before and after the England game showed the one group dressed up as knights singing God Save the King and storming up the stairs on public transport. Some locals appeared shocked by their choice of outfits – others asked them to pose for selfies.
Meanwhile, bars in Doha are demanding fans wearing traditional Arabic robes and headdress remove them over fears it offends locals and insults Islam.
The clothing has become popular among fans and is being widely sold in the team colours of the 32 nations playing at the tournament.
The latest incident follows days of mounting criticism for the Qatari police’s forceful handling of fans as the row over LGBT symbols rumbles on in the Gulf state.
Qatar officials have repeatedly stated ‘all are welcome’ at the World Cup, despite the fact same-sex relationships remain illegal in the country.
England and other teams planning to wear the ‘OneLove’ armbands to make a statement against discrimination during the World Cup in Qatar were also said to be ‘blackmailed’ with the looming threat of ‘massive sporting sanctions’.
Fans and journalists from multiple nations have reported rainbow-themed items, including t-shirts, bucket hats and flags, being confiscated by officials.
Despite FIFA’s insistence that ‘all are welcome’ in the Gulf state, fans, journalists and LGBT groups have all faced an authoritarian-style crackdown with rainbow attire confiscated at stadiums.
The sale of beer was also banned at stadiums in a stunning 11th-hour about turn by Qatari officials – leaving many fans fuming and FIFA red faced.
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani demanded all visitors ‘respect our culture’, with fans expected to fall in line with the Gulf state’s rules and cultural practices.