Fans offered alternative World Cup base if Wales reach Qatar… in Iran
There’s the little matter of a World Cup playoff final clash to consider first, but if Wales do qualify for the finals in Qatar there will be a clamour for fans to book trips.
Accommodation in the tiny Arabian nation is set to be extremely scarce with hotel rooms already costing fortunes and many fans would have to stay in nearby cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates before travelling to games.
Wales could be up against Iran, along with England and the USA in the Finals in November if they defeat either Ukraine or Scotland in the World Cup play-off final on June 5.
And it’s Iran who could potentially solve an accommodation headache for members of the Red Wall.
Wales’ potential World Cup opponents are opening doors to supporters in an attempt to persuade thousands football fans to stay there for the tournament after agreeing to opening up their borders after signing an agreement with Qatar, which they hope will boost their tourist economy.
However, there’s a catch – and it’s a sizeable one – drinking alcohol is illegal.
Nevertheless, Iran has announced they will welcome fans including potentially the Red Wall to stay in their country while the finals are taking place.
Previously, tourists were banned unless they had special permission to visit the vast country from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s government.
But Iran will waive visas for the World Cup duration and are encouraging fans to base themselves in the Iranian resort of Kish island, which is only a 45 minute flight away from Doha or a six-hour ferry ride.
While Kish is the main focus, Iranian authorities also hope to be able to utilise other islands and cities of the southern Hormozgan Province to welcome fans.
Iranian transport minister Rostam Ghasemi said he expected hundreds of thousands of World Cup fans to stay in Iran.
“We are now planning to create the grounds for foreign fans and tourists to travel to Iran during their leisure times to visit our country’s attractions as well,” he said.
Stays in Iran will likely be much cheaper for foreign visitors than those in Qatar, in part because of the battering the Iranian currency the Rial has taken due to sanctions imposed by the United States in recent years.
Iranian authorities hope fans staying on Kish and travelling back and forth during the World Cup could benefit the country’s tourism sector, which has been significantly affected in recent years by the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sanctions.
There are now 72 flights between Iran and Qatar daily. That number could be boosted to 100 flights per day during the World Cup.
Iran is also trying to employ new cruise ships to facilitate sea travel to Qatar.
Nevertheless, it might only be an option to those teetotal Wales fans, given Iran banned alcohol since the establishment of its Islamic government in 1979.
The UK Foreign Office advice states: “The import, sale, manufacture and consumption of alcohol in Iran is strictly forbidden on religious grounds, with exceptions only for certain recognised Iranian religious minorities (not foreigners).
“Penalties can be severe.”
However, transport minister Rostam Ghasemi said: “We want thousands of World Cup fans to stay in our beautiful country.
“We have signed an agreement with Qatar and there will be many more flights to Doha. There will be a visa waiver scheme for the duration of the tournament.
“We want tourists to enjoy our facilities, our hospitality and to visit many of our country’s attractions as well.”
So Wales fans would you consider basing yourself in Iran for the World Cup if we were to qualify for the first time since 1958?
Let us know.
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