FIFA World Cup: No. 1 Portuguese fan’s road trip to Qatar hits Iran visa roadblock

Carlos Brum, Portugal’s No.1 adepto (supporter), plan to reach Qatar in his Sprinter Mercedes Benz has hit an Iran visa roadblock forcing the five-time FIFA World Cup veteran to turn back and return to Athens, Greece and explore alternative plans.

The colourful and celebrated football supporter began his 10,500km journey from Portugal on September 20 along with two other colleagues and he was to reach in Qatar at the end of last month, but after waiting anxiously for more than two weeks in Armenia for his Iranian visa, Brum has had to abandon his road journey to Qatar.

The 64-year old, nicknamed ‘the Azorean’, has in the past travelled around the world to support Selecao das Quinas and was hoping to be in Qatar to support the Portuguese national team.

He has been to five World Cups, three of those he has attended travelling with his caravan, with a road trip from Portugal to Germany (2006) and the next one to South Africa (2010) also by road and the last World Cup in Russia also travelling by road.

He also attended the 2002 World Cup, the first one held in Asia, and the 2014 showpiece in Brazil, flying these times for a change.

The Portuguese national’s extraordinary globe-trotting record speaks for him. Has been to 187 countries so far, quite a record. His travel journey began as a 19-year-old in 1977, starting with the African continent followed by the Americas.

The visa denial had left Carlos devastated and crestfallen, which effectively put an end to his road trip to Qatar, the travel document which would have helped him to cross Iran, then Oman and Saudi Arabia, before entering Qatar.

There were some 4500km left for his epic journey to Qatar which began from Portugal and which took him through 16 countries.

“I’m a little bit sad because they refused the visa. It is because of the current situation in Iran, involving protests and then the other option was to travel via Syria or Iraq. It’s too dangerous a route (Syria one). Our lives were at risk. I love Portugal but I would not risk my life; I have a family, it’s too dangerous that way,” said the 63-yer-old.

If one door closes in the form of a road trip a second one has opened for Carlos in the form of air travel with football fans in Qatar having a glimpse and sharing some moments with the Portuguese fan, who will fly from Athens to Doha in time for the opening match of the football showpiece event.

He will now be travelling to the World Cup at the special invitation of the Supreme Committee, the organisers of the football showpiece event.

“I am going to travel by van to Greece and from Athens I will be flying to Qatar because I got a special offer to be present at the World Cup thanks to the Supreme Committee and the special efforts of Elisabete Reis, Portugal fan leader in Qatar.”

Carlos is expected to fly to Qatar either on November 17 or 18 while his caravan will be parked in Athens at his friend’s place.

Incidentally, Spanish traveller and football fan Santiago Sanchez Cogedor, who set out to walk from Madrid to Qatar to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022, was allegedly arrested in Iran.

Sanchez disappeared four weeks ago after entering Iran, and was arrested in the city of Saqez along with his translator, when visiting the grave of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody on September 16, after being arrested for allegedly wearing the hijab improperly.

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