calendar_today October 19, 2022

‘Spain fans will be very noisy and passionate here in Qatar’

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Doha resident Enrique Blanco expects friendships to be formed during the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and Arab world

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Enrique Blanco Spain

Just over a decade has passed since Spain were the toast of the beautiful game. From 2008 to 2012, La Roja were the dominant force in world football, claiming two European Championship titles and their first FIFA World Cup™ crown at South Africa 2010.

Expectations heading into every major tournament are high among Spain fans – and this year’s World Cup in Qatar is no exception. One supporter ready to cheer Spain’s finest is Doha resident Enrique Blanco. The 36-year-old has lived in Qatar for seven years and works as a Project Manager for German design company Bohnacker at Hamad International Airport.          

A Valladolid native, who currently lives in The Pearl, Blanco believes Spain fans will make a colourful contribution to this year’s tournament, which will be held in eight state-of-the-art stadiums from 20 November to 18 December.

How would you describe Qatar to people who haven’t visited the country?

What stands out for me is the multicultural society we have here. When I go out for lunch with friends, there can easily be six or more nationalities around the table. It’s great, as you get to learn about different cultures and different points of view.

Where are your favourite places to visit in Qatar?

I love the Falcon Souq in Souq Waqif – it’s very unique. It includes a falcon hospital and you see locals bringing their pets for medical care. There is also a small beach in Dukhan, which is nice and quiet, and a good place to go snorkeling and see the many different species of fish. I would also recommend visiting Qatar Foundation. The Education City Mosque is a must-see, as it is very beautiful inside.

Enrique Blanco Al Bidda Tower

What advice would you give to Spain fans planning to visit Qatar for the tournament?

My advice is to be open-minded and not draw your conclusions based on what has been reported about the country. Focus on what you see – not what someone else has told you – because Qatar offers much more than what people think. There are many things you can see and do here, even though it is a small country.

What can we expect from Spain fans here in Qatar?

They will be noisy and passionate for sure. Some will dress like matadors or in traditional clothes. A World Cup is a party – and nobody parties better than the Spanish. I’m sure they will love all the festivities and mixing with people from other countries. I’m sure this will lead to many friendships that last long after the World Cup.

Spain will play their group matches at Al Thumama, Al Bayt and Khalifa International. Are you looking forward to sampling the atmosphere at these venues?

I am indeed! I can’t wait to see those matches because this is going to be the first World Cup I have attended in person and I think it’s going to be amazing. There will be a mosaic of different people and flags and colours at the stadiums. I’m especially looking forward to the match at Al Bayt. It is such a unique stadium and a fitting place for our game against Germany.

This will be Spain’s 16th appearance at a FIFA World Cup™. How do you think Luis Enrique’s side will do at Qatar 2022?

My heart is saying we will win the trophy for a second time, but my heads thinks we will make it to the semi-finals. It’s going to be very difficult to repeat what we did in 2010 because back then, we had some of the best players in the world and we imitated Barcelona’s style of play. This is something not likely to happen again for a long time. When I look at other teams, I think France – with their combination of youth and experience – are likely to win again. However, it’s a World Cup, and anything can happen. I hope we can win again, but I’m realistic to know there are many good teams in the tournament.

Fans interested in attending Qatar 2022 should click here for the latest tickets, accommodation and Hayya information.