After over a decade of anticipation, this football fan seized the opportunity and became a World Cup record-breaker.
Qatar’s football fanatic Hamad Abdulaziz broke the world record after attending 44 of the 64 games during the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The 39-year-old’s record in a single FIFA World Cup tournament is the result of meticulous planning, and it is not likely to be surpassed anytime soon.
All eight venues in Qatar were only a one-hour drive from the heart of Doha, making this year’s FIFA World Cup the most compact in history.
In the early rounds of the competition, the Gulf nation hosted four games per day, with three hours between each kick-off.
The furthest stadium distance was from Al Bayt in Al Khor to Al Janoub in Al Wakrah, though this spanned only 75 kilometres. In addition, there were frequent bus and metro services between each venue to ensure easy transportation for all fans during the tournament.
“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.
Before the tournament concluded, the generation Amazing Foundation coach reached out to Guinness World Records to ensure his criteria would be met.
Per regulations, Hamad required two witnesses to attest that he showed up for the entirety of every game, and the forms had to be signed before kick-off and at the end of the game.
“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,” he added.
One of the biggest challenges, he said, was getting fans who lost the matches to attest to his attendance.
“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,” he explained.
Hamad joined Generation Amazing, a Qatar 2022 human and social legacy programme, in 2017. He previously worked in the finance sector and graduated with a master’s degree in Islamic finance from Hamad bin Khalifa University. In 2017, he changed his career focus.
He is now a master coach for the programme, which uses football to impart important life lessons to underserved areas.
“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.”