The soccer junkies started arriving an hour before the World Cup ticket center opened on Saturday even though loud speaker announcements proclaimed there is nothing to sell.
“I have been coming here for a week,” said Indian businessman Ishan Ushath. “It is like the last-chance saloon but there is never anything.”
The hunt for tickets for the first World Cup in an Arab nation has become ever more desperate with just six games remaining in the 64-match tournament.
FIFA staff and even police outside the centre explain to hundreds of people each day that there is nothing left for World Cup addicts.
Some days there have been hundreds waiting in line before the ticket center opens.
Saturday’s quarterfinals between Morocco and Portugal and England against France brought in a new influx.
“I come here a lot but in the whole World Cup I have only got places at two games,” said Bangladeshi hotel worker Sandeep Mazumder. “There has been nothing for more than a week, now I will give up,” he added.
A Qatari government official said 3.09 million tickets have been sold to 1.33 million people. The official said Qatar has sold more tickets than Russia 2018. FIFA did not comment on the figures.
Qatar had predicted more than one million people would enter during the World Cup and by December 7, there had been 765,859 visitors, the official said.
Qatar had originally limited entry to people with a match ticket or fan pass, and their guests.
But its decision to give free entry to residents of other Gulf countries has intensified the ticket hunt.
Organizers opened up some stadiums for less popular first round games when Qatari residents said they had been able to walk in for free.
Blocks of empty seats were seen at several games which organizers blamed on people who had bought tickets but did not turn up.
Ushath, who lives in Dubai, said he had paid “a little over price” to get tickets for himself and his wife for five second round and quarter-final games.
“I am starting to find the same people trying the same sources to get tickets,” he said, without giving details.
Argentine Nicolas Hermanos, who has been in Doha since the World Cup started, is also pressing his sources for tickets. “The longer Argentina stay the more difficult it becomes,” he said.
“And now there are more people arriving from Buenos Aires,” he added. “It’s Messi’s last tournament.
“There are tickets on the internet, but you have to be careful, they are expensive and there are a lot of scams.”
Some fans said they had started looking into offers made on Twitter and other social media, but quickly became suspicious.
Sixteen year-old Mohi Khaled, an Egyptian living in Doha, and two friends asked strangers in the street whether they had tickets.
The ticket centerhas also had to deal with fans who say they have lost their tickets.
Mexican Sofia Lucerno joined the “ticket resolution” queue after a split with her boyfriend.
“He took my phone with the ticket app,” she told the staff at the entrance who vet cases before people are allowed in.
All World Cup tickets are checked at stadiums on mobile phones.
“Losing your phone is the worst thing you can do but it happens too often,” one staff member said.
Staff also test for fake stories about stolen and lost phones and documents.
“When they have no proof or say they cannot go to police, then the sixth sense kicks in. It get’s desperate but we are as gentle as possible,” said the staffer.