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More than 1.2 million tickets sold for Qatar’s football World Cup 

More than 1.2 million tickets have been sold for Qatar’s 2022 football World Cup, organizers said on Wednesday.

The most recent phase of ticket sales, a random selection draw, closed at the end of April with 23.5 million ticket requests coming in largest numbers from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, according to FIFA, world football’s governing body.

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“I think about 1.2 million tickets have already been purchased. So people are actually buying and people are excited to come,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

A total of two million ticket will be available during the 28-day tournament in November and December, he said.

The next opportunity to purchase World Cup tickets will be on a first-come, first-served basis, but the date has not been announced yet.

World Cup qualification matches have now concluded and all 32 available slots for the tournament have been secured.

Qatar hopes to attract 1.2 million visitors during the World Cup, nearly half of its population.

Organizers are working to avoid price-gouging fans, and, although the local business community should benefit, the tournament should be affordable and accessible for fans, al-Thawadi said on Wednesday at the Qatar Economic Forum organized by Bloomberg.

A central concern has been the cost and availability of accommodation in the Gulf Arab state, which has fewer than 30,000 hotel rooms, according to the most recent estimates by Qatar Tourism. Eighty percent of those rooms are currently allocated to FIFA’s guests, organizers said.

“In terms of availability, we’ve tried to ensure that we provide different offerings on different categories. So from the affordable, which range from $80 to $100 a night all the way to the pricier ones in terms of five-star hotels,” al-Thawadi said.

Qatar has boosted non-hotel accommodation, making 65,000 rooms in villas and apartments available for fans to book and around 4,000 rooms in two cruise ships moored in Doha port.

The business community in Qatar has committed to repay $28 million workers who paid recruitment fees to secure employment in the Gulf state.

Charging recruitment fees is illegal in Qatar and elsewhere, though the practice is widespread in many of the countries where Qatar’s workers come from.

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Read more:

R&B singer R. Kelly handed 30-year prison sentence for sex crimes

UK prosecutors charge actor Kevin Spacey with sex crimes

Ghislaine Maxwell handed 20-year prison sentence for sex trafficking

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