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  • Writer's pictureAnnalisa Jones

Our Man in Qatar!

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Fortune & Fame writer David Collins enjoyed some tremendous experiences towards the end of 2022, visiting the World Cup in Qatar to cover a number of games from the press box.

Writer and journalist David, who has collaborated with Jonathan Power to produce Fortune and Fame, told us how the adventure unfolded

“I have been a regular in the football press boxes for some time, having covered club games across Wales and the West Country for several years” explained David.

“I have also been on the radar of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), reporting on games featuring the men’s and women's sides.”

“Once Welsh qualification for Qatar was secure, the FAW invited expressions of interest from their known media representatives who were interested in covering the tournament. I threw my hat into the ring and, lo and behold, FIFA accepted my application to attend as an officially accredited media representative.”

Thus began a complex series of digital exchanges between David and FIFA, culminating in his flight to Qatar ahead of Wales' opening game against the USA in Doha, Qatar.

In addition to negotiating the usual landscape of passport checks, visas, travel, accommodation and foreign currency, David also revealed some of the intricacies involved in covering a major, international event as part of a global, multi-media community.

“Once my application had been accepted by FIFA, I attended a workshop organised by the FAW, where many of the practical aspects of covering the tournament for the media were explained.”

“It was an extremely complex landscape to navigate” explained David.

“An event like the World Cup has global interest and there were many hurdles to overcome before that media pass was placed around my neck in Qatar. The FIFA Media Guide alone ran to 174 pages, including the names of all 24 Video Match Officials!”

“I had been accepted to cover some Welsh games but also hoped that I would be able to experience other aspects of the tournament.”

“As one of the sites for which I write, Prost International has strong North American links, I also wanted to cover USA, Canada and the Central and South American teams.”

“We also populated our Welsh language Twitter pages @CymraegProst. It was a very tall order with a packed schedule.”

“The guys behind the scenes at Prost were terrific in supporting my work in Qatar. I also want to thank Owain Harries, National Teams Comms & Engagement Manager at the FAW for his patient expertise.”

David’s accreditation saw him invited to a series of media events before the tournament itself, including the squad announcement in Tylorstown and a wonderful send-off for Robert Page’s lads at the Cardiff City Stadium.

“As an adventure in Media Land, the experience itself was without precedent” recalls David. “The Media Centre itself was like a small town, with every aspect of technical support, IT back-up and media resource you could contemplate. I watched England v Iran at the Virtual Stadium in the centre, and attended a press conference with the Mexican FA! A packed TV schedule meant that I was also able to comment on the fortunes of sides like Canada.”

“FIFA provided free buses for the media to every game, where the best seats in the house gave unparalleled views of the top footballers from across the globe. Media releases from FIFA provided a wealth of statistics and information to help us simple reporters.”

This was the first time Wales had featured in the final stages of the World Cup since 1958. Despite the need to adopt an impartial approach from his seat in the press box, David confessed to a moment of pride as he joined the other Welsh media representatives in singing the anthem before the opening game against the USA.

“Yes, the 64-year wait was not lost on me as Wales took the field” opined David.

“Unfortunately, the heat, occasion and strength of the opposition in those group stages proved too much for Wales to overcome. Sadly, the Welsh lads left the tournament with their tails somewhat between their legs.”

David continued to follow the tournament on his return to Cardiff. The memory of those days rubbing shoulders with fans and reporters will linger long in the memory though, he says.

“There were so many highlights from the tour” reflected David.

“I visited an Arab restaurant, a mosque and a shopping mall” he recalled. ”I saw Wales at the World Cup and got to ask Robert Page a question at his post-match press conference. I met fans from Ecuador, Uruguay and Carmarthenshire. It was simply awesome.”

We pressed David though. “So what was your biggest highlight then David?” we asked.

David’s eyes slightly misted over at this point.

“I have been lucky enough to witness many of the greatest players in action down the years: Best, Beckenbauer, Bale, Ronaldo. I even saw John Charles in action at the very end of his career. What a thrill to have seen such icons in the flesh.”

“But in 2022 I saw Lionel Messi skipper Argentina in the World Cup. I saw him score. I watched him strut his stuff in the venue where he would go on to win the trophy itself. That memory will take some beating.”

“Like so many other aspects of Qatar 2022 though, a surprise was in store. Saudi Arabia actually beat Argentina that day! I was thrilled to witness this enormous, epic game watched by an exuberant crowd in the best atmosphere I have ever experienced. When Saudi Arabia scored, the reaction of the Saudi fans could barely be described.”

“Messi’s men went on to lift the trophy of course. A small part of me was incredibly pleased that I had shared in their journey and met many of their fans along the way.”

“Qatar 2022 had its critics of course, but as an adventure in football watching, it will take some beating…”

You can read David’s match reports, previews and other World Cup reflections by visiting Prost International

Also follow his writing on Twitter @DavidCollins29a and, wrth gwrs, @CymraegProst.

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