World Cup postcard from shipping container Stadium 974

Stadium 974 will host seven games at this World Cup before being fully dismantled

Stadium 974 will host seven games at this World Cup before being fully dismantled Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from Stadium 974

They came to the port to get a final glimpse of CR7 before he sails off to territories new. Yes, there was large pockets of colourful and vocal Ghanian fans around Stadium 974 to cheer their team on against Portugal but the majority of the crowd – the traveling Portuguese fans and those living in Qatar – only had eyes on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Unlike Leo Messi’s penalty scoring defeat earlier in the week, in this game Ronaldo scored from the peno spot and his team went on to win, although a late goal by Ghana made for an uncomfortable ten minutes second half injury time (see the match report here).

Ronaldo's goal made him the second oldest player (behind Roger Milla) to score in a World Cup finals.

I watched him do so as I sat amongst the spectators in the stadium this evening as this was the second of two spectator tickets I’d bought early this year (I did well with my other one - Sitting in the not-so-cheap seats as Saudi stun Argentina).

I’m staying fairly close to Stadium 974 beside the Park and Ride car park for the venue so I hopped on the air conditioned bus to take me the 3km to the venue.

The eye catching stadium is built at the far end of Doha’s corniche along the water front. Constructed with a steel frame and 974 shipping containers (the number is also the international phone code for Qatar), it is a stunning stadium in a stunning location on the beach.

It really is made up of shipping containers and inside the stadium the yellow toilets (with ac), blue concession stands and the grey prayer rooms were all brightly painted shipping containers. The prayer rooms were dotted all around the ground – separated by gender – with plenty of people going in ahead of kick-off and indeed at half time to take part in their daily prayers.

I’d been out to the venue on Tuesday for an early morning run when thankfully the temperatures had yet to reach 25 degrees. I wasn’t the only one who had come down to get some photographs in front of the giant World Cup trophy, with the massive sign with the name of the stadium and the giant footballs in country colours of participating teams that are located outside each of the World Cup venues.

When I went further around to look to run back along the beach towards my apartment and took some photos of the stadium, up went the shouts from the security. It wasn’t an issue with taking images, only that the 1.2km beach is set up as a small fan zone in the afternoon and so the entrance was being controlled that day as Mexico were taking on Poland that afternoon.

The stadium’s modular design means it is the first fully demountable tournament venue to be used at a FIFA World Cup. It is all a bit different than the venue when Portugal and Ghana met at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when Portugal won 2-1.

That match was played out in the magnificent Estadio Nacional in Brasilia (or the Mané Garrincha Stadium) with a capacity of 72,788 and when constructed was the third most expensive stadium ever built at €660 million. It hosted four group games, a round of 16, quarter-final and the third place play-off. With no local club requiring the large capacity venue, within a year it was being used as a bus depot.

There are a number of the eight World Cup venues from this tournament that will reduce in capacity after the end of the tournament which will go some way to reducing the enormous carbon footprint of bringing the competition to Qatar. There is of course a cost sadly in migrant worker deaths during the construction of the infrastructure for this World Cup.

The Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium was built on the site of a previous venue with over 80% of construction materials recycled or reused. Both that new 40,000 capacity venue and the Al Thumama Stadium will be halved in size after the tournament with FIFA noting that the modular seats will be given to football development projects around the world. The upper tier of the Al Bayt arena that held the opening game will also be removed and the seats given to developing countries.

After the World Cup, the Lusail Stadium will be transformed into a community space with schools, shops, cafes and health clinics all under the one roof. Argentinian fans will likely be happy that it won’t be a football stadium any longer after their 1-0 loss there to Saudi Arabia.