Qatar World Cup organisers have increased official stadium sizes after attendances at venues appeared to exceed previously stated capacities.
The new numbers – which suggests venues have increased by more than 10 per cent – also partly explains some lower-than-expected turnouts at matches.
Discrepancies became obvious at a packed Lusail Stadium on Tuesday. More than 88,000 attended Argentina's shock defeat to Saudi Arabia – but earlier this week, the stated capacity was 80,000.
Sources close to the Supreme Committee confirmed attendance numbers have now been boosted across the newly built World Cup venues.
More tickets were said to have been made available ahead of the event as it emerged the broadcasters would need less than expected room.
The Al Bayt Stadium, which hosted Qatar's opening game defeat to Ecuador, also had 60,000 to in the pre-tournament guide, but it is now stated as 68,895 on the official website.
However, the corrected figures do not fully explain all the empty seats at venue. Around a third of the stadium was empty at the stadium following half time at the opening match, and many spectators have claimed they do not believe the stated attendances matches those present at the venues.
One issue for fans appears to be cost, with studies showing this tournament is 40 per cent more expensive for match tickets compared Russia 2018.
Tickets for the final cost an eye-watering £684 on average. While fans in Russia paid an average of £214 for a seat, tickets to matches in Qatar cost an average £286, according to a study by Keller Sports.
But Fifa president Gianni Infantino says "three million people will be in the stands watching”.
What are the stadiums like?
The eight stadiums that will host the 2022 Qatar World Cup are eye-catching, to say the least.
One of the stadiums is made of shipping containers while another is intended to resemble traditional Middle Eastern headgear.
While they are striking in design, the eight venues – the fewest since the 16-team 1978 World Cup in Argentina – are a logistical relief for fans attending arguably the most controversial World Cup ever.
That is because the eight stadiums are all within 21 miles of central Doha and will be linked by a metro and tram system, making it possible to watch more than one game in the same day.
Some grounds are powered by solar farms and equipped with cooling systems to battle the heat, while others have outdoor air-conditioning. And once the tournament is said and done days before Christmas, only one stadium will be called home to a football team: the Khalifia International Stadium.
The others will be either dismantled completely (in the cast of Stadium 974) or reduced in capacity and repurposed as hotels, community spaces or smaller sporting facilities.
How many stadiums will host the event?
Eight stadiums will host the 32 teams from the opening game on November 20 to the final on December 18.
The opening game kick off at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, while the finalists will head to Doha a month later to play at the Lusail Stadium.
Lusail Iconic Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 80,000
Tournament capacity: 88,966
The Lusail Stadium (officially Lusail Iconic Stadium) will be the centrepiece of the Qatar World Cup. It is the biggest stadium available with a capacity of 80,000 – although that figure increased once the tournament got under way by around 12 per cent after organisers claimed the additional seats were found as a result of fewer being needed by broadcast media.
The stadium features cooling systems to help combat the local climate, drawing power from a solar farm outside the city and is where the World Cup final will be played, as well as a number of group fixtures, and one game from each of the knockout rounds before December 18.
It is situated 15 miles north of Doha and served by both the Metro and matchday buses from Doha. Lusail is very much still a city in development, with plans ultimately to develop an infrastructure that could support more than double the current 200,000 population.
Beyond the accommodation blocks that have housed many of those 10,000 people who have worked on the Lusail Stadium for the past six years – and whose faces form a mosaic outside the stadium – the immediate surrounds remained largely barren at the time of Telegraph Sport’s site visit in June.
Project manager Tamim El Abed explained that the space will help with organising all the fans, staff, stewarding and security on a match day when “it will look more alive” with greenery and prefabricated buildings. The surrounding area will then be handed over to developers for “long term” low rise development such as retail and schools in support of the growing city.
Construction began in 2017 and was finished in 2021, at an estimated cost of $767 million.
Argentina 1 Saudi Arabia 2
Brazil vs Serbia
Argentina vs Mexico
Portugal vs Uruguay
Saudi Arabia vs Mexico
Cameroon vs Brazil
Al Bayt Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 60,000
Tournament capacity: 68,895
At around 30 miles from the centre of Doha, Al Bayt Stadium represents the ‘outpost’ of football’s most compact ever World Cup. It is also one of the biggest stadiums at a capacity of 68,895 and will host nine matches during the tournament, including England vs USA in the group phase, a quarter-final and a semi-final. With its retractable roof and traditionally Arabic tented design, it is also one of the most eye-catching designs. Express shuttle buses will take fans to the stadium from both the centre of Doha and the Lusail Metro Station.
It will also serve as the venue for the opening ceremony.
Education City Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 45,320
Tournament capacity: 44,667
Opened on June 15, 2020, the Education City Stadium is billed as one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable stadiums. It is surrounded by Qatar's educational institutes, which will continue to use the stadium after the tournament closes.
The stadium has already hosted matches in the Qatar Stars League and the World Club Cup, and Education City will host seven World Cup matches up until the quarter-finals. Its capacity will be reduced to around 25,000 after the tournament. Situated on the edge of Doha, the stadium can be accessed on the Metro line.
Pre-tournament capacity: 40,000
Tournament capacity: 44,089
Nestled just 5km from the airport and overlooking the seafront corniche, the ideal match venue for those fans who might be heading in and out of Doha on a matchday while staying elsewhere in the region.
The name comes from the 974 shipping containers that were used to construct the stadium and, with a 44,089 capacity, it will host matches up until the last 16. It will be dismantled after the tournament, making it the first temporary venue in World Cup history.
Mexico 0 Poland 0
Portugal vs Ghana
France vs Denmark
Brazil vs Switzerland
Poland vs Argentina
Serbia vs Switzerland
Khalifia International Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 40,000
Tournament capacity: 45,857
Served by the Doha metro and just seven miles outside Doha city centre, the Khalifa International Stadium is the oldest of the eight stadiums after first being constructed in 1976. It has been renovated for the World Cup, and now has a 45,857 capacity, but has already previously hosted the Club World Cup and the World Athletics Championships. It will be the venue for England's first match of the tournament against Iran.
It is named after Qatar’s former Emir, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, and has been the home stadium for the national team since its construction.
Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 44,740
Tournament capacity: 45,032
The Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan took its design from the desert landscape around the ground and Qatar. It features several sand dune-esque structures after a redesign for the World Cup following its initial build completion in 2003.
It was more than 40C when Telegraph Sport attended the final play-off match in June between Peru and Australia at this stadium which is situated within 600 metres from the metro station in Al Rayyan. But there will be no worries about the playing temperatures when England face Wales in their final group stage fixture inside the stadium thanks to air conditioning systems that were designed by Dr Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, a Sudanese graduate of mechanical thermal fluids from Nottingham University.
“We maintain a bubble – and make sure it will not burst – by keeping the pressure different from outside,” he said. “The technology also cools the air and purifies it from pollen dust, human skin, human hair, and then gives it back.”
At 21C, the temperature in June was indeed transformed to a mild European spring evening and allowed the players to perform at full tilt over 120 minutes without so much as a drinks break. “You’re not hot at all,’ said Denis Genreau, the Australia midfielder. “I don’t know how they do it.”
USA 1 Wales 1
Belgium vs Canada
Wales vs Iran
Japan vs Costa Rica
Wales vs England
Croatia vs Belgium
Al Thumama Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 40,000
Tournament capacity: 44,400
Another of the more eye-catching architectural achievements, with its circular outline designed to reflect the gahfiya – the traditional woven cap worn by men and boys across the Arab world. This is another stadium within close proximity of Doha and the airport, and it previously staged matches in the 2021 Arab Cup. This stadium will host eight matches during the World Cup, including a quarter-final.
Al Janoub Stadium
Pre-tournament capacity: 40,000
Tournament capacity: 44,325
The stadium's design, by the British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, was inspired by the hulls of traditional pearl fishing boats, which are further reflected by the use of timber and traditional materials. The symmetrical roof, intended to look like sails, is the standout feature.
Al Janoub stadium is situated in the town of Al-Wakrah where the England team are based, around 30 minutes from the centre of Doha. After the tournament, it will later be reduced in size and become the home venue of the local Al Wakrah football team which currently plays in the Qatar Stars League.