England’s relatives were deeply unimpressed with life on the boat, with insiders disclosing that they felt ‘isolated’ out at sea.
Last week this column reported how one raucous fellow resident urinated into the atrium from the fifth storey, and celebrating fans returning late at night from matches had disturbed the families’ sleep.
There were also problems making calls to players. All of those who were on the ship from the England camp have now moved into hotels as planned, with the Maguires and Grealishes among the first to flag issues.
The families of Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish led the exodus off HMS Wag out in Qatar
All of those on the ship from the England camp – including Grealish’s girlfriend Sasha Attwood (right) – have now moved into hotels as planned
A number of World Cup players have complained about strange stains on their kit at the end of games, leading some to wonder if ground staff are taking the Augusta approach and using paint to cover bare areas on pitches, as they do on the greens at the Masters.
FIFA are adamant that is not the case and say that warm-up areas are being marked out with green paint.
FIFA’s choice of Chesney Hawkes to sing at England v Wales on Tuesday did not go down well in the Welsh camp, given the Nineties star was openly supporting England and even posed with Declan Rice in his own Three Lions shirt after the game.
FIFA’s choice of Chesney Hawkes to sing at England v Wales didn’t go down well with the Welsh
ITV Sport staff, whom Agenda reported are staying at the luxurious Hilton on the Pearl, have been ribbing their counterparts at the BBC, who are in a more modest apartment block.
Sky Sports’ England reporter Rob Dorsett, who makes eyes roll in press conferences when he refers to players as ‘mate’, raised eyebrows when he revealed exclusively on Sunday afternoon on Twitter that Bukayo Saka was to start against Senegal.
Revealing team line-ups is a touchy subject and frowned upon by the FA.
‘Hardly the behaviour of a mate,’ quipped one England regular.
The FA frowned upon Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett (L) after he leaked England team news
Ronaldo and friends make a splash on Doha padel courts
While all eyes have been on the football, another equally competitive event has been unfolding at the Waldorf Astoria.
The army of ex-players in Doha for commentary and ambassadorial duties have been taking to the swanky resort’s padel courts, where the competition has been described as fierce.
The likes of Ronaldo, Kaka, Mesut Ozil, Patrick Kluivert, Robbie Keane and others have been regulars playing the sport, which is basically doubles tennis on a smaller court.
They have been joined by a series of high-brow individuals, with the scene serving as the best networking site in Doha.
(Left to right) Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Ronaldo and Kaka get ready to do battle on the padel courts of the Waldorf Astoria in Qatar
Paris Saint-Germain president and former tennis player Nasser Al-Khelaifi has also been among those who have impressed.
Mauricio Pochettino has been invited to a number of matches by the man who showed him the door at PSG.
Al-Khelaifi and the former Tottenham manager have been engaged in warm conversation on a number of occasions, showing there is no ill-feeling over the Argentine’s departure from the French capital.
A bottle of water is an essential item for those in Qatar, with the blazing sun making rehydration a necessity.
However, those attending tournament venues are being ordered to take the labels off before being allowed inside if they are not made by a brand owned by Coca-Cola, the World Cup’s official drinks partner.
The site of stacks of delabelled water at security checkpoints is common.
One of the features of host broadcaster beIN Sports’ coverage has been the sight of exiled Richard Keys and Andy Gray fronting commentaries.
A penny for the thoughts of fellow pundits Gary Neville and Peter Schmeichel when, at half-time in Saturday night’s victory over Australia, Gray referred to Argentina as ‘the Argies’.
One of the features of beIN Sports’ coverage has been the sight of Richard Keys and Andy Gray
The cringeworthy behaviour of some ‘journalists’ in Qatar has reached new levels, with FIFA forced to intervene following a series of shameful exhibitions of fandom.
Lionel Messi was applauded after a recent press conference before media raced to the front for selfies.
Unprofessional saps have also been badgering players for pictures, which has led FIFA to put up signs telling the so-called reporters that selfies are banned.
One of the more pleasing elements of Gareth Southgate’s reign as England manager has been improved relations with the media.
A more relaxed approach has seen players more open during interviews, with Jack Grealish apologising for the Miguel Almiron incident and Declan Rice all but confirming he will leave West Ham in the not-too-distant future.
‘They play for England in front of thousands of fans with all the pressure that brings,’ said one official. ‘So I am sure they can cope with 30 minutes in front of the press.’
A similar stance has been taken at training bases, where there are no rules on players eating before staff. Whoever gets to the canteen first, be that the kitman or Harry Kane, is first to dine.
The lack of any criticism of Qatar’s human rights record, or reporting on the issues faced here by LGBTQ+ supporters, by US giants Fox has been noticeable.
This would be the same Fox who have a giant, state-of-the-art studio on the Corniche that dwarfs the facility being shared by the BBC and ITV, and whose coverage happens to be sponsored by state-owned Qatar Airways.
Fox have gone on record to say they are here to report on the soccer.
Football agent Saif Rubie, charged on suspicion of making a malicious communication after claims former Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia had been the victim of blackmail, has been a notable presence in Doha.
Rubie has been spotted at a number of games, including in boxes as a VIP guest of FIFA.
The police launched a probe following an email directed at Granovskaia, who has now left her position at Stamford Bridge, in which she was said to have received demands for payment, reported to be £300,000, for a transfer involving Chelsea.
Football agent Saif Rubie has been a notable presence so far at the World Cup in Qatar
FIFA staff, decked out in their navy suits, have been noticeable across venues for their shiny white trainers.
Officials, including president Gianni Infantino, have a choice of footwear from tournament sponsors adidas as part of a more relaxed policy.
Many have opted for the classic Stan Smith trainers, which come with FIFA’s initials embroidered on the side.