Fifa World Cup: How Qatar trip could be a life-changing moment for this American couple

Juan Carlos and Tatiana share their thoughts about Doha, why they'd like to move there, and their experience of meeting Spanish football icon Andres Iniesta


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 2:56 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 5:12 PM

In the wee hours of the night when the metro train halts at stations in Doha, the sounds and vibes of the singing fans on the platforms stir your soul.

Seeing football fans from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Japan, Morocco and Ecuador converge, wave their own national flags and sing deep into the night is a feeling that can never be put into words.

In a post-social media world filled with bigotry, we perhaps need a football World Cup every year to remind ourselves that there is still a place in the human heart for hope to breathe.

It was in those wee hours of the night that this reporter bumped into a Spanish-speaking American couple.

Draped in the Team USA colours, Juan Carlos and his wife, Tatiana, wore their hearts on their sleeve.

The couple, who first met on the internet, said the Fifa World Cup in Qatar is an eye-opener for them.

“Too many people in the US told my wife that she can’t dress like this, you can’t do this and that. A lot of people said things are different in Qatar. But when we arrived here in Qatar, it made a big impression. It’s a beautiful country. And it’s so clean,” said Carlos who had moved to the US from Colombia in 1999.

So is it even cleaner than the famous American cities?

“Oh, it’s far cleaner than any American city,” Tatiana responded with a big smile.

Carlos, whose own football career in Manizales, the mountainous Colombian city famous for its coffee beans, was cut short by a knee injury, then revealed why he doesn’t feel safe in New York anymore.

“New York City is like a crazy town now, because they have made marijuana legal. You drive anywhere, you smell marijuana. Everywhere. So that’s really bad,” he said.

“So when we arrived here in Doha, we found this city, the people, everything is in order.”

Tatiana, who was born to Spanish parents in Cuba, says their visit to Qatar for the World Cup could turn out to be a life-changing moment.

“Now, it’s our dream to come and live in this part of the world,” she said.

Carlos admitted to already having that discussion with his wife.

“Now my wife says it’s so beautiful that we feel like moving to Qatar. I will tell my kids that we can move to Qatar. It’s very safe. It’s not just clean and beautiful, it’s a very safe place. The people are very friendly,” he said.

“I don’t know why people in the US were telling us that things are not good in Qatar. I really don’t know the reasons.”

The couple also bumped into Andres Iniesta, the Spanish football icon who famously scored the match-winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, at a holiday resort in Qatar.

“We saw him in the pool and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is Andres Iniesta’. He was cool and greeted my wife,” Carlos said.

“He then asked us about our World Cup experience in Qatar. I told him everything, how people in America told us that my wife has to dress like this, she needs to cover everything.

“Iniesta said, ‘No, it’s not like that. It’s a very normal country.’

Now, this football-loving couple is going back with a bag full of wonderful memories.

“I came here only to support USA, my second home because my country Colombia did not qualify for this World Cup,” Carlos said.

“But we met so many wonderful people here in this beautiful country. It has now become the most memorable trip in the history of our life!”

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