The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee has rejected the accusations of western media that there are fake paid football fans at the World Cup, after videos of Indian expats cheering on the England team in Doha went viral on social media.
The fans from India, mostly from Kerala, southern Indian state, expressed outrage at being labelled “fake.” As England’s team bus pulled up in the dark at their hotel in Doha, the drums were beaten and the horns blasted by Indian fans proudly wearing England shirts and carrying England flags, AFP reported.
In a statement the Supreme Committee said it rejected the allegations about fake fans, which they called “disappointing and unsurprising”.
“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,” it said in a statement.
“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.”
“This is degrading, there is a lot of frustration,” Ameen Sharak, an Indian resident of Doha who works as an accountant, said to AFP.
“It is purely fake news and I would like to say loud and clear that none of us have been paid in any way,” said Sajidh, 29. He went on to say: “We are diehard England fans. Since childhood, my favourite player has been David Beckham. We have got Wayne Rooney fans, we have got Michael Owen fans.”
“This has hurt us a lot,” said another fan, Anas to news agency. “People just do not realise how much football excitement there is in Kerala.”
The Supreme Committee further said football fans celebrated differently based on where they were in the world.
“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,” it said. “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. Journalists on the ground who speak to and meet these fans are realising the reality.”