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I survive catarrh in Qatar!



DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 26: Ibikunle Solaja with a World Cup replica trophy and a certificate, in recognition of their achievement of covering 8 or more FIFA World Cups, during an AIPS / FIFA Journalist on the Podium ceremony at the Main Media Centre on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Brendan Moran/FIFA)
Doha, State of Qatar

As the Tunisia versus France match dragged on, I suddenly felt sharp cold around my chest region.

The hitherto warm weather was beginning to turn cold. Having not experienced cold weather for sometime in Qatar, I had lowered my guard.

We had been forewarned in the media guide sent by FIFA that we should prepare for possible changing weather that could fluctuate from warm to cold.

The cold was so intense in me that in the process of removing my cherished wristwatch while crossing the security arch, it fell and scattered.

The long walk one had to also cope with did not help matters. The irresistible   appetite to watch two World Cup matches in a day was also contributory to my breaking down.

After all, this is the first and possibly going to be the only World Cup edition where one will try to be ‘omnipresent’.


As if the organisers are trying to promote physical fitness among the media men, most of who are already ageing, there is always a distance of more than 100 metres to cover from the drop up point at the media bus park and the media entrance to the media tribune.

If you miss the media bus, you will have more than 400 metre trek to navigate yourself to the media tribune.

Even at the stadiums, the media tribunes are located at the top tier stands. If you are unlucky to miss the ever congested elevator, you have a mountain to climb to get to sometime the sixth floor of the stadiums.

For those not adapted to laborious life, it was tough.

I had to go into self isolation for three days, watching most high-tension matches on television.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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