The World Cup is almost over, 63 out of 64 matches have been played. We only have the final, after which the memories will remain. Whoever this also applies to Gino D’Honorio, who, at the age of 50, has been to no fewer than 37 World Cup matches in Qatar. in conversation with Sportnieuws.nl He talks about his own journey and his hobby.
During: Bart van der West
D’Onorio is calling us from Gran Canaria. He put that holiday behind his World Cup adventure because of his 50th birthday and wedding anniversary. The intention was actually for his wife to also come to Qatar, but this planning was spoiled by his favorite team.
“I am half Italian and always support Italy in the final rounds – I also came to the finals of the European Championships in London. But when they were eliminated (in the play-offs, ed.) I had to change the layout, so I said: “Then we will look for something else after the tournament.” That became Gran Canaria and we went there last weekend,” Di Honorio told The Sun.
The former (amateur) referee at KNVB had attended the World Cup before, which helped him sell tickets this year. So he has helpful tips for people who also want to visit an end tour. Football fans can blindly pre-register for World Cup matches. “If you try to get to the heads of groups (A1 or B1) or the big stadiums, you will always be able to see the best countries. This is an interpretation that FIFA never gets rid of,” he says from his own experience.
“I created several accounts to get tickets. Two of myself, because I have a dual passport. So did my wife, son, daughter-in-law and even my neighbor. So I was well prepared,” says D’Onorio.
Despite this, De Honorio initially had doubts about this World Cup, because Qatar hosted it. “But I also went through that a little bit with Russia in 2018,” he says. “I don’t like what happened either. Especially after so many people died. And I don’t support the human rights situation either. I’m a very open person and I think everyone should feel free.”
D’Onorio decided to follow his soccer heart and go anyway. “In the end, it’s still the sport you’re after. It’s a tournament I would love to attend.” D’Honorio himself has not seen any bad things in Qatar.
Visiting 37 World Cup matches is of course not good for the wallet. However, D’Onorio has already devised a plan for this. “I have been saving for more than 3 years for the World Cup. I set aside 100 to 150 euros every month,” he explains. “As a referee within the KNVB, I earned a little extra money and put it into my ‘football game.’”
After D’Onorio got all the tickets, he started Facebook and WhatsApp groups with soccer fans from all over the world which he already knew from previous finals. “I got to know a lot of people there, with whom I also exchanged tickets” giving him tickets to countries he didn’t yet have. He eventually got to 37 games and watched all the teams in action.
“At a certain point, watching all countries became a kind of sport. I only missed Saudi Arabia and Poland, if they had them, I was complete,” Donorio looks back. Football fan has seen iconic posters like Argentina – Mexico and Spain – Germany. He was also in all of the Orange’s matches. “Actually, I was very lucky.”
South American atmosphere
According to Di Honorio, the best moments passed during the Argentina-Mexico match with the amazing Lionel Messi. “The entourage is on the field. A lot of Argentinians, a lot of Mexicans. A lot of atmosphere. In that moment you squeeze your arm and you think: ‘Jesus, I’m just here.'”
However, visiting the 37 World Cup matches also requires a lot of energy. Especially in the group stage when there were 4 matches per day. “Many times after the 7pm game (local time, ed.) you had to quickly take the bus, subway or taxi to get to the 10pm game time. That was a killer.” However, De Honorio only trailed two games.
World Cup 2026
In 4 years, it will be much more difficult for D’Onorio to watch several fights in one day. Then the World Cup finals will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico. However, he had already made plans for that tournament. “We don’t yet have the West Coast of the United States, and we’d love to go there. Then we’ll combine that with some competition,” said D’Honorio, who hopes Italy will be there again.
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