Excited Moroccan fans scramble for last-minute World Cup tickets

Their side has entered the final 16 of the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

While the spirited atmosphere at Education Stadium on Tuesday before the Morocco-vs-Spain World Cup round-of-16 match was overwhelmingly dominated by Moroccan fans, not all Atlas Lions’ fans were happy.

For days, many Moroccans have been looking for tickets to the game on Tuesday, the first time their team has made it to the second round of the FIFA World Cup in 36 years.

Nider Abdel Magid said he had been waiting outside the Education City Metro station since 1pm (10:00 GMT), “desperately” hoping to get a last-minute ticket to the game.

“I have been looking for tickets for three or four days … and I am really frustrated that I still don’t know if I can watch the game,” the 61-year-old retired engineer from Kenitra, some 50km (31 miles) from capital Rabat, told Al Jazeera.

He added that he is “very angry” since he had extended his stay in Qatar after Morocco qualified for the round of 16.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation said on Monday it had 5,000 tickets to distribute among Moroccans in Doha — sparking hope among fans.

Hisham and Hatem, two friends, said they had barely slept in the past 24 hours, as they have tried to buy tickets online. “On the [FIFA] website, we sometimes wait for two or three hours before we can enter the portal to buy tickets,” said Hisham, who lives in Amsterdam, but is originally from the southern Moroccan coastal city of Agadir.

Hisham said it was like a “jungle-like” situation at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC), where they, like hundreds of others, rushed to get tickets. “They kept saying they have tickets, but all of a sudden … they told us to leave after we lined up for more than two hours,” he added.

“People were cutting lines … It was chaotic,” he said, adding that there were some scuffles.

His friend Hatem said they also tried to get tickets from scalpers but the tickets were “very expensive”.

“One guy I talked to said he will take $800 … I was like that’s crazy,” he added.

‘Will be very disappointed’

Both Hatem and Hisham said attending the match would be the “best part” of their trip to Qatar.

“I will be very disappointed if I can’t watch inside the stadium … going to this match will be like the cherry on top … this game is historic for us,” Hisham said. The friends have watched two games at the World Cup so far.

It’s a sentiment shared by Abdel Magid, who described himself as a “die-hard fan” of the Moroccan team. He has camped at the DECC over the past two days in search of tickets.

Yet, what matters most to him, he said, is a win for his side. That, more than anything else, is what would make him “happy”, he said.

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