The decision was made last Monday. Despite long weeks of prospecting and numerous exchanges with the French representation in Doha, there will be no Casa Bleue of the FFF during the World Cup in Qatar (November 20-December 18), according to our information. The tricolor supporters who will travel to the emirate will not benefit from this traditional meeting place and open gathering on the sidelines of the France team matches.
“There will be no Casa Bleue because there is no suitable place corresponding to the specifications in the allocated budget”, confirmed to us, this Friday, the marketing department of the FFF. A decision taken on financial grounds, therefore, since the “3F” would not have followed up on the estimate presented to it, knowing that the privatization of such a meeting place in Doha cost “extremely expensive”, according to a witness. But this refusal could also be combined with other concerns, while the body has carried out a social plan and is confronted to controversies (respect for human rights, living and working conditions of foreign workers) linked to the organization of the tournament in Qatar.
“For us, the Casa Bleue is practical, because it is also a rallying point”
About 10,000 supporters French are expected on site during the 29 days of competition, with an estimated contingent of between 4,000 and 5,000 Blues followers in the stands for each of the three group stage matches. “For us, the Casa Bleue is practical, because it is also a rallying point”regrets Anne Costes, the travel manager of the Irresistibles Français (“IF”), the main group of supporters of the Blues, after the decision of the Federation. Especially since it will be fun in terms of meeting the supporters of other teams, since everyone will be in the same place..
This World Cup will indeed be the most compact in history: the vast majority of matches will take place in Doha and its outskirts (there are 75 km between the two most distant stadiums, from north to south). On the other hand, the Irresistible French will be much less numerous in the small peninsula of the Gulf than in Russia, four years ago. “We estimate that we will have between 50 and 100 ”IF” per gamecontinues Anne Costes, while 600 of our members had played at least one match in Russia in 2018. With us, there are clearly fewer people traveling this year”.
A private alternative is emerging
After the abandonment of the Casa Bleue project by the FFF, a private initiative is taking shape to set up a “fan zone” of French supporters in three separate places – hotels – in Doha, with paid entrance ticket (from 20 to 30 €) which would give access to these different spaces with free consumption and preferential rates. The French Embassy in Doha is also considering welcoming Les Bleus supporters during a meeting with Deschamps’ selection. Finally, another alternative could be tried with the creation of a gathering space for French supporters in the main fan zone in Doha, the FIFA Fan Festival, in Al-Bidda Park, near the corniche.