Fifa World Cup final: Tickets selling for $5,000 in Doha as desperate fans clamour to watch Messi's final attempt at trophy

Widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, the 35-year-old will end his international career today with his final attempt to win the coveted trophy

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

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Mexican fan Roberto Aguilar
Mexican fan Roberto Aguilar

Published: Sun 18 Dec 2022, 12:26 PM

The big day has finally arrived; Lionel Messi’s Argentina will lock horns with Kylan Mbappe’s France at 6pm (7pm UAE Time) in the World Cup final at the Lusail Iconic Stadium today.

35-year-old Messi, widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, will end his international career today with his final attempt to win his first World Cup trophy.

Mbappe, the 23-year-old French superstar, is aiming to become the youngest player to win two World Cup titles since Pele.

There is a lot at stake.

But Messi’s announcement after Argentina’s semifinal victory over Croatia, that the final will be his last World Cup match, has sent his fans across the world into a frenzy.

All they want is to be able to watch the magician at work one final time in a World Cup game today.

Until 2:30 in the morning on Sunday, hundreds of people, mostly Argentinians, were desperately waiting outside the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), to get a ticket for the big game.

Among them were people from several gulf countries, Mexico, and even India.

An Indian fan told this reporter that he just landed the evening before for this match, even though he doesn’t have the tickets.

Roberto Aguilar, a Mexican fan, made a last-minute plan to journey to Qatar after Argentina reached the quarterfinal. He got a hold of tickets for the team’s semifinal against Croatia, but he was still waiting for a ticket until the early hours of Sunday morning.

Aguilar and his Mexican friend were draped in Argentina colours when this reporter met them.

It was quite incredible to see two Mexicans in Argentina colours desperately looking for a final ticket, considering that Mexico has a bitter football rivalry with Argentina.

“It’s crazy, there is a big rivalry between Mexico and Argentina, but we are Messi fans,” Roberto told me.

“We have been following Messi for a long time. We want to be part of this big event, it’s the final match of the World Cup and it’s the final match for Messi in an Argentina shirt. That’s why we are here trying to find some tickets.”

Roberto revealed that some people with tickets are reselling them, but they are asking for an exorbitant price.

“The prices are so high. People have been asking for around $4,000 to $5,000 for one ticket, which is a lot of money. So if we can find someone who is willing to sell for two thousand, we will buy,” he said.

“We will come back here again to try our luck. But if we do not get a ticket, we will go to the Fan Festival to watch the match.”

Roberto says there are a sizeable number of Messi fans in Mexico despite the country’s football rivalry with Argentina.

“It’s not a huge number, but yes, there are a lot of Messi fans in Mexico,” he said.

Messi, Roberto says, is clearly more popular in Mexico than Diego Maradona, the late icon whose status as a World Cup-winning Argentine hero Messi is hoping to emulate today.

“Maradona has his fans in Mexico, but not as many as Messi has,” Roberto said.

“I think the reason for Messi’s popularity in Mexico is very different. Messi is a clean guy. He doesn’t get involved in stupid things; that’s why people in Mexico see Messi as an example,” Roberto added, referring to Maradona’s history of drug scandals.

“Yes, there have been Maradona fans in Mexico, but they are not as big in numbers as the Messi fans.

“I heard that there is a church built by Maradona fans in Mexico in his honour. But they are just being Maradona fans. These people are like Maradona himself; they are very extreme.”

Roberto’s own last-minute plan to fly all the way to Qatar from Mexico to watch Messi’s final World Cup match can also be seen as an extreme move by many.

“Yes, but we have the support of all our family, our wives, kids, everyone. Now let’s see if we can find tickets,” he said.

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