Qatari enters Guinness record for most matches attended at FIFA World Cup

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Qatari football fanatic Hamad Abdulaziz has been officially recognised as a world record holder after attending 44 of the 64 matches during Qatar 2022.

Detailed planning helped the 39-year-old attend more matches than anyone else at a single FIFA World Cup tournament – and it’s a record unlikely to be broken in the future.

Qatar hosted the most compact edition of the FIFA World Cup in history, with all eight stadiums just an hour’s journey time from central Doha. Qatar staged four matches a day during the early stages of the tournament, with three hours between each kick-off. The longest distance between stadiums was 75km – from Al Bayt in Al Khor to Al Janoub in Al Wakrah. All stadiums were connected by regular metro and bus services.

“Growing up, I dreamt of playing in the World Cup – and as the kick-off approached, I found a way of being part of the tournament’s success while showing how well everything was organised and how easy it was to get from one stadium to another,” said Hamad, who grew up in Al Wakrah and works as a coach for the Generation Amazing Foundation.

Hamad contacted Guinness World Records ahead of the tournament to ensure he would meet their criteria. He needed two witnesses to certify he attended the entirety of every match, with the forms signed ahead of kick-off and at the final whistle.

“After examining the schedule, I saw I could attend three matches a day. There were a lot of close calls – but with the help of my brother, who drove me between matches, I was able to break the record, even with just an hour between the end of one match and the start of another,” said Hamad.

Getting the fans of losing teams to attest his attendance was a challenge.

“At times, the witness would end up leaving before the final whistle, leaving me without a signature. This caused me endless headaches. I quickly learned to get three or four witnesses for every match. In general, everyone was supportive, including some close friends who helped me buy tickets to make my dream come true.”

Having graduated with a Master’s degree in Islamic Finance from Hamad bin Khalifa University, Hamad previously worked in the finance industry before switching his career focus and joining Generation Amazing – a Qatar 2022 human and social legacy programme – in 2017. Hamad is a master coach for the programme, which leverages football to teach key life skills in marginalised communities.

“I have been so fortunate to be a part of this tournament’s success,” said Hamad. “From helping Generation Amazing achieve 1 million beneficiaries to breaking the world record for attending matches, I am so proud to be part of Qatar’s success. Qatar will have its name in the record books for a long time thanks to this achievement.”

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