FIFA called out for a blatant ‘lie’ as the photo highlights a glaring issue

Left is a shot of Qtar's Al Bayt Stadium with several fans out of their seats and FIFA President Gianni Infantino is pictured on the right.

FIFA was forced to clarify the official attendance figures for each World Cup match, another brutal blow to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino. Images: Getty Images

FIFA has been called out because of a strange trend at FIFA World Championshipin which official viewership figures for a number of games appear to have been inflated. Official figures from the first few World Cup games would point to a string of near-sold-out matches, but images and footage showing a row of empty seats have raised questions about their accuracy.

An official attendance of 59,407 was reported for Morocco’s clash with Croatia – which would have meant almost every seat at Al Bayt Stadiumwhich has a capacity of 60,000 would have been full.

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However, reports and images are uploaded from Twitter New York Times Reporter Tariq Panja revealed that this was clearly not the case as large parts of the stadium remained unoccupied for the Group F game. It comes after attendances for several matches on the first day of the World Cup were submitted as exceeding the total stadium capacity for the venues.

A total of four matches were recorded earlier this week with attendances exceeding the capacity of the stadiums in which they were played, some by several thousand more.

The eyebrow-raising numbers have led to some speculation that the numbers have been massaged somewhat, with Pania quipping that the seemingly thousands of invisible fans at the Morocco-Croatia game must have been so impossibly small that they couldn’t be seen .

“Morocco fans make decent sound in Al Khor even though the stadium is about half full/empty for this game,” he wrote on Twitter. “Perhaps the organizers had tensions between having enough accommodation and letting fans into the country without a ticket to buy them on arrival? Small local population means games aren’t crowded.”

The reporter was absolutely amazed when the official number of visitors was reported. “It is not (59.407). Unless there are a few tiny little people sitting in those thousands of empty seats,” Panja wrote.

Several FIFA World Cup matches report questionable attendance figures

The following are several other instances of venues recording official attendance figures that far exceed the publicly stated maximum capacity for each of the stadiums in use.

Hosts Qatar’s game against Ecuador at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium was reportedly attended by a whopping 67,372 fans. 45,334 players came through the goal as England met Iran at the 40,000 capacity Khalifas International Stadium.

The 41,000-seat Al Thumama Stadium hosted 41,721 spectators for the Netherlands-Senegal clash, while 43,418 fans crowded the 40,000-seat Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium for the USA-Wales showdown.

Some of the games mentioned above also included clearly visible sections in each stadium where few, if any, fans were seated.

Moroccan fans cheer on their team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Moroccan fans attended the FIFA World Cup in large numbers but doubts remain as to the true number of people traveling to the big event. (Photo by DeFodi Images/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

However, according to FIFA, there is a very good explanation for the clear discrepancy in the numbers. The listed capacity for each stadium is a “reference capacity” meant to meet FIFA requirements, with the governing body claiming that each venue had a larger capacity than shown online.

Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup has come under scrutiny, with human rights at the forefront of criticism. Reports suggest that up to 6,500 people have died during the construction of the eight stadiums, as well as widespread complaints about employers withholding wages and passports.

FIFA itself has also come under heavy criticism after threatening to issue yellow cards to the captains of seven European teams if they continue with their plans to wear OneLove armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

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