AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) — Hundreds of Moroccan fans waited outside Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday for a chance to score a free ticket to the country’s World Cup semifinal game against France.
The tickets were given out by the Moroccan soccer federation in coordination with FIFA and the Qatari organizing committee.
“We bought the rest of unsold tickets in the stadium and we distributed them to our fans,” Moroccan federation president Fouzi Lekjaa said. “They are here in Qatar and they have only one desire — to see the national team.”
Morocco, the first African team to reach the semifinals at the World Cup, faces defending champion France on Wednesday.
Fans outside Al Janoub Stadium said they had been waiting for several hours. Some camped out with blankets and chairs and took turns sleeping on the ground. Many plan to support the team in Qatar even if they can’t get a ticket.
“We just going to rely on God. We wish from the bottom of our heart that tomorrow’s game goes well,” Moroccan fan Mohammed al Hmaemi said. “We hope that our national team wins. We do not have tickets, so we just going to stay outside and cheer for them.”
Moroccan fan Hasnae Belazzeyz said the wait was worth it: “It’s more than a dream, it’s incredible. It’s a national pride. It is historical.”
Morocco’s national carrier, Royal Air Maroc, has confirmed it will run 30 flights between Casablanca and Doha.
“After the success of the unprecedented arrangements made for the Morocco-Portugal match, we are now quadrupling these arrangements by operating nearly 30 flights with large-capacity aircraft in just 24 hours,” Royal Air Maroc president Abdelhamid Addou said in a statement.
Royal Air Maroc said the one-of-a-kind deal would be on sale for 5,000 dirhams ($475) round trip.