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Qatar World Cup 2022 Qatar funds hundreds of vigilante fans
Qatar World Cup 2022 Qatar funds hundreds of vigilante fans

Qatar World Cup 2022: The Qatar World Cup, probably the most experimental in history, will delve into what some clubs in the Spanish League have been exploring for years: the promotion of the incipient figure of the professional fan, fans who are financed to attend stadiums, willing to compose scripted choreographies at the service of the authorities, when not of a colorful television product, never critical. The Supreme Committee, the body that directs the organization of the Qatari championship, has chosen representatives of the 32 participating teams whom it calls “fan leaders” who, invited to the Qatar FIFA World Cup with everything paid, must also consent to act as moral watchdogs on social media.

“You agree to report any offensive, demeaning or abusive comment towards the Supreme Committee and, if possible, take a screenshot of it and delete it immediately,” reads one of the clauses of the code of conduct that the organization imparts among the “leaders” of fans. “All other comments, whether critical or celebratory of the Cup, may remain publicly viewable at your discretion.”

Qatar World Cup 2022:

Between September 20 and October 10, the “leaders” of the 32 countries in the running chose other fans from their jurisdiction, up to 50 per nation. The organizing committee, calling itself the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, designated them as “successful fans.” They are those who, having issued a request, were graced with the invitation. Flight, accommodation and board paid for at least one week, a ticket to attend the opening ceremony of the tournament and the subsequent matchwhich will be played by Qatar, the host, with Ecuador, at the Al-Bayt stadium, on November 20. More information

The World Cup has had no political limits. Mussolini’s Italy, Videla’s Argentina or Putin’s Russia have enjoyed the approval of FIFA to host the tournament. The absolutist monarchy that rules Qatar is not the most authoritarian regime to have organized the competition nor the only one that has been embroiled in allegations of corruption in the process.

But Qatar is the first organizer that finances the trips of fans from all countries to beautify the image of the country and the championship.

The news caused a wave of suspicion. Since US the Dutch public television, to New York Times, different media pointed out that Qatar intended to employ the fans in the framework of an image laundering and censorship operation.

This Friday, the Times of London reported that a group of 40 English fans had been conspired to sing prefixed songs at the opening ceremony with a salary of 60 pounds a day that would be paid on their credit cards. The report was crowned with a suggestive headline: “English fans paid to act as spies at the World Cup.”

The Supreme Committee recognizes that it has developed an information exchange program with more than 450 fans from 59 nations. This Friday, the body that oversees the organization of the tournament issued a series of statements to explain that its collaboration with the fans “would conceive a historic tournament focused on the fans

.” The Supreme Committee indicated that this would be “a model for future mega events” and reacted with a denial. “Media speculation has portrayed this initiative as an illicit scheme whereby visiting fans are paid in exchange for the coordinated promotion of the World Cup in Qatar. This insinuation is absolutely false.”

All fans who visit Qatar as guests

“All fans who visit Qatar as guests do so voluntarily and free of charge,” the note continued. “They are under no obligation to post or share content provided by the Supreme Committee, or report content on our behalf.

The CS will provide flights, lodging and food expenses”, concludes the message. “Viewing this as payment for services not only overshadows the essence of the show, it also calls into question the credibility of the fans involved.”

“Be as creative as you want”

The terms and conditions that guests must abide by are rigorous and deliberately intricate. According to the document leaked by Dutch public television, US, and to which this newspaper has also had access, may not be accompanied, must resign their right to intellectual property and undertake to sign a confidentiality clause that prevents them from revealing “any information” provided by “the Promoter.

” In addition, they are advised to avoid profanity, “nudity” and posts with “discriminatory or demeaning” content. Finally, a clause advises the unthinkable: “Be as creative as you want. (…) Be authentic and do what you feel”. Among the responsibilities that the “fan leaders” have, says the code of conduct, is that of “supporting the World Cup in Qatar by giving like and share posts about the Championship”.

French broadcaster BFMTV

Thierry, a Belgian who is the only guest fan to have spoken publicly, told French broadcaster BFMTV that the selection of Belgium supporters was made by the Belgian federation. “When you go to watch the national team matches, you earn points on a ranking,” Thierry explained. “The most assiduous are in the first place”. The federation contacted the top 40 on the list, including Thierry.

The Red Devils supporter said that “yet” he has not been asked to speak well of Qatar, although he did not rule out being asked to do so once he is in Qatari territory. “We will see what happens, we may be able to say good things, I have already visited Dubai and I have nothing bad to say (…) I may be delighted to return”.

Dutchman Paul Hirschel, a fan who tries not to miss a single match of the national team, prefers not to travel to Qatar in this way, despite being invited. According to him, the two Dutch leaders who have chosen those who will go to Doha “it is possible that they were located through social networks when they received the offer from Qatar.”

Hirschel will go on his account: “I decline to participate in this kind of propaganda. It’s appetizing, but it doesn’t feel right to me. The scope of the code of conduct is unclear. Although I respect the decision of those who have chosen this route”, he concludes.

The organizers of the World Cup assure that they are waiting for a group from Spain with expenses paid. But so far, none have shown up. The federation claims not to have participated in the selection of the fans, as France or Belgium did.

The main supporters group, the Federation of Minority Football Shareholders and Partners (FASFE), a member of Football Supporters Europe, the most legitimate interlocutor of supporters before UEFA, has been against Qatar 22 from the beginning. “The organization of the World Cup has contacted us”, says the president of FASFE, Emilio Abejón; “

But they have not invited us and we would not have accepted because we understand that Qatar is not a football country, nor is it a country in which we should play football. Fans shouldn’t go because many fans in the stands would be discriminated against, for example, for being LGBT”.

Federation of Minority Football Shareholders and Partners: FASFE

Adrián Núñez Corte, a member of FASFE, was the main interlocutor of Spanish fans with the federation during the 2018 World Cup. “I will not be paying and I will not be invited either, and less to advertise,” he says. An unrepentant follower of Spain for the last five years, Núñez Corte assures that this World Cup goes against the grain of the work calendar and the financial situation of most of the fans.

Hervé Mougin, president of the Irrésistibles, the main group of fans of the French team, assures that he will attend the World Cup, but paying for it out of his pocket. He explains that in 2021 the organization contacted him through the French soccer federation to be fan-leader, but the conditions did not convince him.

“What they are looking for,” he says, “is not people who know how to work to help them organize better, but influencerspeople with the ability to transmit Nice word”. “Why are they invited?” he asks. “To use them as a communication tool (…). They are going to participate in communication operations.”

“Some official panic”

John Williams, Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester, and an expert in football history, says that this case is unprecedented. “I am not aware that something like this has happened before with people who are not famous. Yes it has happened with well-known personalities, like David Beckham, paid to project the desired image”, says Williams. “The image of the event itself may also worry them, because much has been said about how will they treat homosexuals or what they will do with alcohol consumption. So they anticipate possible negative information.”

Williams recalls that this tournament “costs about 200,000 million dollars, something never seen in football, and in an exceptional context created on purpose for this sport.” But he points out that “engaging ordinary fans like this shows a certain official panic: the authorities think that the world will be watching them and they aspire to generate an alternative point of view and experience that does not come from the State”.

Carlos de las Heras, head of Sports and Human Rights at Amnesty International, recalls that freedom of expression is very restricted in Qatar, “especially after the approval, in January 2020, of an imprecise law by which to broadcast or publish information” biased” can be punished with up to five years in prison and a fine of about 25,000 euros.” In November 2021, two Norwegian journalists investigating the working conditions of World Cup construction workers were arrested, accused of filming on private property, something the journalists denied. They were questioned and all their equipment was confiscated. They were released 36 hours later.

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