Qatar has been accused of paying hundreds of “fake fans” to parade for the cameras ahead of the World Cup.
Footage has emerged of football fans from around the world filling the streets of Qatar’s capital, Doha, a week before the start of the tournament.
Qatar Living – the country’s first official community platform on TikTok – has posted videos of “fans” from different countries gathering in the hundreds with flags, painted faces and banners.
It’s not clear if the fans are migrant workers living in Qatar who partied early, or if the parades were staged by the authorities.
One clip shows a sea of supposed Brazil fans waving flags on the Doha Corniche – the city’s waterfront promenade – others show supporters from Portugal, Argentina, Ghana, Cameroon and Tunisia.
Another post appears to show English fans singing and playing drums as they parade through the streets with a banner that reads “It’s Coming Home.”
Supporter behavior appears to be carefully curated and staged – and questions have been raised about the legitimacy of fans.
Some have accused Qatar of orchestrating the parades with “fake” fans – and questioned why fans have arrived en masse more than a week before the start of the World Cup.
Other social media users said they saw the same “fans” in separate videos showing their support for different countries.
Some also pointed out that there were no female supporters in the crowd.
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A TikTok user commented on the England fans’ clip: “Paid actors!”
Another said: “I wonder if they just hired random people to cheer.”
A third wrote: “I saw them all dressed up as Brazil fans yesterday.”
A fourth commented: “I swear they pay workers to be fans, at this point I’ve seen them support seven different countries.”
It’s not the first time Qatar has been accused of hiring “fake” fans.
In 2014, Qatar was accused of employing migrant workers as sports fans to fill largely empty arenas.
Back then, migrants said they went to the Qatar Open of international beach volleyball for the money — not the sport.
Numerous employees stated that they regularly invent numbers at sporting events.
French players Edouard Rowlandson and Youssef Krou were playing a match during the tournament when workers arrived to fill the seats, making the arena look almost full.
Rowlandson called the scene “bizarre…but we prefer that to acting in front of nobody.”
In January of the same year, a survey of Qatari residents suggested that paid supporters could discourage Qataris from the sport.
The Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics said two-thirds of Qataris cited “the proliferation of paid fans” as a major factor in not watching football matches.
Qatar is already paying England fans to “spy” on their friends and speak positively about the country during the World Cup in exchange for free flights and tickets.
The group of Three Lions supporters were reportedly given instructions to sing specific songs when needed and to report any critical social media posts.
All 40 get free flights and accommodation in the desert country, £60 a day spending money loaded onto a Visa card and free tickets to World Cup matches.
The group of fans is said to include four members of the English band, including leader John Hemmingham.
All are booked for flights to Doha on November 17th.
A further 40 supporters from Wales have signed up for the ‘Fan Leader Programme’ along with groups from the 30 other participating countries.
Supporter groups have branded the move a “sinister, tasteless” marketing exercise aimed at whitewashing the tiny kingdom’s appalling human rights record.
But Qatar are keen to present a positive image of themselves during the flagship tournament and have paid David Beckham millions to act as an ambassador for the hosts.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6675905/qatar-accused-paying-hundreds-of-fake-fans/ Qatar has been accused of paying hundreds of “fake fans” to parade in front of the cameras a week before the World Cup