Gino D’Onorio (50) has visited 37 World Cup matches: “It has become a sport to see all the countries”
The World Cup is almost over, 63 of 64 games have been played. We only have the final, after that the memories will remain. One that also applies to Gino D’Onorio, who just turned 50, attended no less than 37 World Cup matches in Qatar. In conversation with Sportnieuws.nl he talks about his special trip and his hobby.
D’Onorio calls us from Gran Canaria. He put that vacation behind his World Cup adventure due to his 50th birthday and wedding anniversary. It was actually the intention for his wife to come to Qatar as well, but that planning was spoiled by his favorite team.
“I’m half Italian and I always support Italy in the final stages – I also took part in the final of the European Championship in London. But when they were eliminated (in the play-offs, editor’s note), I had to change the schedule, so I said, ‘Then we’ll look for something else after the tournament.’ It became Gran Canaria and we went there last weekend,” says D’Onorio of the Sun.
Tips for Marking Cards
The former (amateur) KNVB referee had already taken part in a World Cup, which helped him sell tickets this year. So he has some useful tips for people who also want to visit a final ride. Football fans can blind pre-register for World Cup matches. “If you try to reach the group tops (A1 or B1) or the big stadiums, you always see the top countries. It’s an interpretation that FIFA never gets rid of,” he says of his own experience.
“I created several accounts to get tickets. Two from myself, because I have a double passport. And further from my wife, my son, my daughter-in-law and even my neighbor. So I was fine prepared,” says D’Onorio.
Despite this, D’Onorio initially had doubts about this World Cup, as Qatar was hosting him. “But I also had that a bit with Russia in 2018,” he says. “I don’t like what happened either. Especially when so many people died. And I don’t support the human rights situation either. I’m a very open person and I think everything the world should feel free.”
D’Onorio decided to follow his footballing heart and go for it anyway. “In the end, it remains the sport that we practice. It’s a tournament I like to participate in, ”he underlines. D’Onorio himself saw nothing wrong in Qatar.
Visiting 37 World Cup matches is of course not good for the wallet. Yet D’Onorio had already devised a plan for it. “I saved for more than 3 years for the World Cup. I put aside 100 to 150 euros every month,” he explains. “As a referee within the KNVB, I earned a bit more and put it into my ‘football game’.”
After D’Onorio got all the tickets, he created Facebook and WhatsApp groups with football fans around the world he already knew from previous finals. “I met so many people there, with whom I also finally exchanged tickets” This gave him tickets to countries he did not yet have. It finally came to 37 games and saw every team in action.
“At a certain point, it became a kind of sport to see all the countries. I only missed Saudi Arabia and Poland, if I had them, I was complete,” recalls D’Onorio. The football fan has seen the best posters such as Argentina – Mexico and Spain – Germany. He was also at all Orange matches. “Actually, I was lucky.”
South American atmosphere
According to D’Onorio, the best moments came in the match between Argentina and Mexico, with an incredible Lionel Messi. “The entourage in the stadium. So many Argentines, so many Mexicans. Lots of atmosphere. At that moment, you shake your arm and you think: ‘Jesus, I’m right here’.”
But attending 37 World Cup matches also requires a lot of energy. Especially in the group stage where there were often 4 games in a day. “Often after the 7 p.m. match (local time, editor’s note) you had to get on the bus, metro or taxi quickly to be on time for the 10 p.m. match. It was a killer.” Still, D’Onorio was only two games down.
World Cup 2026
In 4 years, it will be more difficult for D’Onorio to attend several duels in one day. Then the World Cup will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico. However, he has already made plans for this tournament. “We haven’t had the west coast of the United States yet, we would like to go there. Then we will combine that with some competitions,” said D’Onorio, who hopes Italy will be there again.
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