Bolton YouTuber Thogden in record-breaking bid to attend every match at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Thogden, who has more than one million subscribers on his YouTube channel, has headed for the Middle East to try to take in as much of the action on the pitch as possible.

A YouTube star and football fan from Greater Manchester has flown to Qatar and set himself the extraordinary challenge of trying to get to every match at the FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament.

Thogden, who is from Bolton and has more a million subscribers to his video channel, will be trying to make it to every one of the 64 games taking place over the 28 days of competition in the Middle East. Of course he will not be able to watch the full 90 minutes of every match as some points in the packed schedule, there are two games going on at the same time.

But due to the compact layout of this year’s event, with all the stadiums located in and around the Qatari capital city of Doha or just a few miles away, Thogden is hoping he will be able to see at least some of the action from every game - a task which has been dubbed “The Impossible Challenge” and would certainly not be possible at any other World Cup which would be much more geographically spread out.

What is ‘The Impossible Challenge’ Thogden is trying to do at the FIFA World Cup?

Thogden, whose real name is Theo, is trying to attend every match which is taking place at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Altogether there are 64 matches to be squeezed into the 28-day schedule.

His footballing marathon gets under way on Sunday (20 November) when the hosts Qatar open the tournament against South American side Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium. The quest will then come to an end on 18 December when the final two teams left in the tournament will battle it out for the honour of lifting the famous gold trophy at the Lusail Stadium.

Thogden has a job on his hands as he will be racing from stadium to stadium across the Middle Eastern country to try and catch some of the action at every game. It will not be possible for him to see all of each match, as sometimes there will be multiple games kicking off together, and his busiest days will involve four games being played in a day.

An aerial view of Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Khalifa Stadium is a host venue of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Credit: Getty Images

However, this audacious attempt is only possible at all due to the unique circumstances of this year’s World Cup. Qatar is a tiny country, covering some 11,581 km2 (by way of comparison the UK is 242,495 km2), and some 80% of the population live in the capital city Doha. That means this World Cup is taking place in a very compact area. All of the eight stadiums are located within 50km of the capital, and it has been estimated that a road trip visiting all of them would take just a few hours.

At previous World Cups trying to get to multiple venues in one day of the schedule would have been impossible as they have been so much more geographically spread.

At the last World Cup in 2018 in Russia, for example, there was more than 1,500 miles between the stadiums in Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg which hosted matches. The most spread-out World Cup ever staged was the 1994 one in the United States of America, when stadiums in Boston and California more than 2,500 miles apart were used. There were also enormous distances between some of the host cities in 2014 when Brazil staged the competition.

Who is Thogden and what has he said about going to Qatar?

Theo is a popular football YouTuber and content creator who has more than one million subscribers on his Thogden channel. He started out making videos about his club Bolton Wanderers and the England national team.

As his popularity has snowballed, though, his channel has broadened its work and he now posts matchday experiences and videos around live games from across the world. He also provides hot takes and reactions to things going on in the world of football, including draws for European club competitions and who will be playing at international tournaments such as the World Cup.

Speaking about his current challenge in an introductory video on YouTube, he said: “I will be attending every match at FIFA World Cup, the first fan to ever do that in history.

“I know what people are going to be saying, there’s games on at the same time, but we’re going to find a way of getting to both matches. I don’t know how we’re going to do it but we will find a way.”

What has been said about the attempt?

Thogden’s attempt to get into the record books by seeing some of every game at a World Cup is being supported by football media company COPA90 and Crypto.com, which is an official sponsor of the tournament. It is hoped that hundreds of thousands of fans will keep tabs on his adventures.

“This FIFA World Cup is unlike any other, so we wanted to showcase a unique tournament in a totally unique way with a daring world first,” said Ed Groves, head of growth at COPA90.

“The Impossible Challenge will be a raw, unscripted, and ambitious adventure showcasing the stories from every single country and fanbase going.”

However, Thogden is also heading to a tournament which is mired in controversy. The organisers have been under fire on issues including deaths of migrant workers building the stadiums and the way construction staff have been treated and whether or not the conservative Muslim country will welcome LGBTQ+ fans. And on Friday (18 November) there was more drama after it was suddenly announced that beer would not be sold in and around the stadiums, just 48 hours before the football kicks off.