Qatar has been accused of paying hundreds of ‘fake fans’ to sing and dance in a series of choreographed videos ahead of the World Cup.
Footage has emerged of various ‘fan parades’ in Doha ahead of the tournament’s big kick-off this Sunday, including celebrations featuring supporters supposedly from England, Brazil, Argentina and several other nations.
The TikTok channel Qatari Living, which has over 400,000 followers, has been sharing videos of the ‘fans’ from different countries waving flags and chanting songs as they walk along the Corniche in Doha.
The suggestion is that supporters had arrived early in the country to soak up the atmosphere in the build-up to the World Cup, with the clips posted mostly over the weekend.
But fans reacted with scepticism and some accused the Qatari authorities of paying migrant workers to dress up in support of different nations.
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee rejected claims the fans were fake and said ‘their passion for football is authentic.’
Several comments on the England ‘fans’ TikTok video featured the word ‘England’ along with the flag emojis of India and Bangladesh, countries where thousands of workers were recruited from to build World Cup stadia and infrastructure.
‘Must be England fans from Kerala, India,’ said one comment, while others pointed out the musical instruments in the videos were definitely not English. Another TikTok user wrote: ‘Paid actors!’
One other comment said: ‘I swear they’re paying the workers to be fans at this point. I’ve seen them supporting like seven different countries.’
Videos emerged of England ‘fans’ singing and dancing in Doha on a Qatari TikTok channel – but they have been met with scepticism
Other TikTok videos apparently showed fans of Brazil (left) and Argentina (right) already in Qatar over a week before their teams’ first matches
Another TikTok user said: ‘Saw them all dressed as Brazil fans yesterday.’
In the England video, the ‘fans’ were wearing England shirts and baseball caps, waving the St George’s flag and holding up a banner that said: ‘It’s coming home.’
In the Portugal video, fans were bouncing up and down and performing Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark ‘Siu’ celebration. Many were wearing ‘Ronaldo 7’ shirts.
The same musical instruments and horns appeared to have been used in several of the clips, leading to questions about the legitimacy of the ‘fans’.
Others commented on the lack of female supporters in the videos, which appear to have been carefully orchestrated.
A ‘fan’ of Argentina is pictured in a parade in Doha on Monday, ahead of the World Cup
Qatar has been accused of staging fake fan parades to drum up support for the tournament
It isn’t clear whether the authorities have staged the fan parades or whether migrant workers still in Qatar are genuinely partying in the lead-up to the tournament.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy told Sportsmail: ‘Fans from all over the world – many of whom have made Qatar their home – have contributed to the local atmosphere recently, organising fan walks and parades throughout the country, and welcoming the various national teams at their hotels.
‘Numerous journalists and commentators on social media have questioned whether these are ‘real’ fans.
‘We thoroughly reject these assertions, which are both disappointing and unsurprising.
‘Qatar, and the rest of the world, is comprised of a diverse range of football fans, many of whom share emotional connections with multiple nations.
‘In different places around the world, fans have different traditions, different ways to celebrate, and while that may contrast with what people are used to in Europe or South America, it doesn’t mean the passion for football is any less authentic.’
The fans in the England parade appeared to be playing Indian-style drums as they walked
Another TikTok clips showed fans of Portugal performing Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘Siu’ celebration
An investigation by The Guardian last year found that 6,500 migrant workers, mainly from the Asian subcontinent, had died constructing stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup.
Studies by Amnesty International said many workers died from heat exhaustion having worked long hours in temperatures above 40C.
It came after reports that a group of England fans had been paid by Qatar to attend the World Cup and chant on command during the opening ceremony on Sunday.
40 fans from each country have reportedly been recruited to deliver a positive message about the Gulf state, which has been heavily criticised for humans rights abuses, migrant worker deaths and other issues ahead of the World Cup.
The Times said the groups of fans would be seated together in the stadiums and would sing and wave flags when instructed, as part of a Fan Leader programme.
In return for staying in Qatar for a minimum of two weeks, they will enjoy free flights and accommodation as well as £60-a-day spending money on a pre-loaded card from tournament sponsor Visa.
World Cup organisers are paying for some fans to attend this year’s tournament in Qatar
Organisers want fans to only post positive comments about the tournament on social media
They will also reportedly receive complimentary tickets to the opening ceremony and matches having signed a ‘code of conduct’ before they take off for Doha on November 17.
They will be urged to post favourable comments about the tournament on social media and report ‘any offensive, degrading or abusive comments’ to organisers, preferably with screenshots.
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