In Doha, supporters take possession of the venue / Mondial 2022 / Behind the scenes / SOFOOT.com

The streets of Doha fill hour after hour with supporters from all walks of life, providing a joyous melting pot of genuine and non-authentic followers, influencers and pleased fads.


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The issue with Qatar is the drops. These of sweat, first, that the peaks of warmth make dripping from shiny skulls from the primary rays of the day. Arrived on Saturday morning in Doha, Darío, an Ecuadorian crossed with an armored bag on his again, breathes: “I left Quito within the rain and discover myself in barbecue warmth right here. I believe it may take me a couple of days to get used to it, however now that I’ve arrived with out issues, the necessary factor is tomorrow’s opener towards Qatar. » Friday night, Arnov, who had come from Birmingham with three associates, did not care in regards to the warmth. His quest was turned in the direction of different drops. “We noticed earlier that alcohol will in the end not be allowed close to the stadiums. It is fairly irritating” , he slips after climbing on the hump of a dromedary on the entrance to Souq Waqif, the market and place of the town the place all of the vacationers on this planet have been bouncing for a couple of days. For the remaining, the younger Englishman, Jude Bellingham’s jersey on his again, has to date made successful of his begin to the World Cup with hair minimize like Ronaldo 2002 and tickets for a number of conferences in his pockets. Round him, Doha is lastly waking up after the primary pretty calm hours. The Tunisian supporters, initially fairly alone in placing on the field, have been joined on Friday by Moroccans, Cameroonians, Senegalese and varied South American followers. In response, native safety forces cordoned off 99% of the entrances to the Souq and arrange an Ikea-style closed circuit the place humorous scenes combine.

“For all of us, it was a monetary alternative, a option to assist our households, and sure, in the course of the World Cup, we shall be behind Qatar. » Samarasiri, Sri Lankan residing in Qatar

It’s thus attainable to come back throughout a tipsy Mexican – sure, there are nonetheless sources of alcohol in Doha – sitting on a bench between two males, thobe on the physique and ghutra on the pinnacle, one other native who tries to make say to a Brazilian journalist in full reside that “to date, every part is ideal” or a line of Qataris ready to have the ability to take photos with the Cameroonian supporters. Earlier within the day, because the metro noticed its first large site visitors jams, one other photograph caught the attention: that of about 60 Sri Lankans who got here to hold an extended banner to point out their assist for Qatar and to wave flags of the host nation not removed from the lens of a photographer from the Qatari soccer federation. A few of them are sporting Sri Lanka jerseys, others are sporting T-shirts with a transparent message: “Sri Lankans – We assist Qatar. » “It is the beginning of the vacations for some, colleges closed on Thursday night, and today is a chance for us to point out our gratitude for our second nation, Qatar.particulars Samarasiri, who attends the second with considered one of his associates, Sanjeewa. We’ve got been right here for 25 years, others have arrived a bit extra not too long ago and we’re pleased to have the ability to expertise this World Cup. She is a bit ours too, as a result of we have now all, at our degree, labored for and because of her. » The change continues, the 2 males concede that “It is not all the time simple, the schedules are sometimes laborious” and say: “For all of us, it was a monetary alternative, a option to assist our households, and sure, in the course of the World Cup, we shall be behind Qatar. »

Pretend followers, actually?

Then comes the query of the well-known “false followers” paid by Qatar, a rustic made up of almost 90% foreigners, throughout this World Cup. For the reason that publication in early November of brief movies on social networks relaying the march of supporters supervised by native authorities, distrust is so as and there’s generally one thing. Within the aisles of Souq Wafiq, Argentina jerseys are legion and infrequently worn by younger males from Southeast Asia. When questioned, considered one of them, an Indian, confides “to be there to unite Argentinian followers world wide” however when requested who his favourite participant is or how his relationship with theAlbiceleste, he wallows in silence and casts anxious glances. Within the Doha metro, amongst a bunch of Indians residing in Qatar, a person in a Neymar jersey admits with an embarrassed snort that he’s not likely a aficionado of the Choice. He’ll rapidly be known as to order by his neighbor on the left, wearing a Germany jersey, not likely proud of the speech given.

“I’ve heard that some have been paid, however speaking to them, but in addition to English journalists, you additionally get the impression that for probably the most half, they’re largely regular followers who go to a World. » Arnov, English fan

All this doesn’t imply that each one the supporters crossed with jerseys from Argentina, Brazil, Germany or the French crew are pure merchandise of the Grévin museum. In Qatar, the Indian group is probably the most represented – 25% of the native inhabitants – forward of the Bangladeshis and the Nepalese, and lots of, primarily from the Kerala area in southern India, don’t conceal their love for the soccer. Confronted with the digital certainty of by no means seeing their choice play within the World Cup someday, some have merely discovered a substitute choice, just like the members of the French Soccer Followers Membership India who welcomed the Blues on their arrival in Doha. Arnov, the English fan seen at Souq Waqif, has his ideas on the matter: “I’ve heard that some have been paid, however speaking to them, but in addition to English journalists, you additionally get the impression that for probably the most half, they’re largely regular followers who go to a World. » At TelegramGireesh Edavana, a 42-year-old Indian engineer residing in Doha, even confided to being “shocked” when he and his group of 500 supporters of the Three Lions have been categorized as pretend : “Many people grew to become followers of the England crew by way of David Beckham. He was the one who made us followers when he was enjoying. » Coincidence or not, the Spice Boy is now considered one of Qatar’s cultural ambassadors for the World Cup after accepting a wonderful examine for tens of thousands and thousands of euros final yr. Not essentially the best instance to dispel all doubts, subsequently.

Expensive leaders

Met along with her French companion within the souq, Elisabete Reis was one of many 400 fan leaders chosen in 60 completely different nations to come back and promote the competitors. She is in her 40s, Portuguese, has lived in Qatar for 15 years and works as a private coach and ambassador for a jewellery model. To acquire this distinctive cap, she was approached by the Organizing Committee of the 2022 World Cup, however she claims to not have touched the slightest riyal to assist Cristiano Ronaldo and his associates. “These articles… It is low-cost journalism. » Nevertheless, as revealed by the Guardian, who took notice of a message despatched by the Organizing Committee, Elisabete ought to have acquired a nest egg to advertise the World Cup on her social networks. Drawback, due to the various papers written on the topic, the bills in order that these fan leaders, anticipated en masse for the opening match, can eat on the spot was lastly canceled on the final second. Not sufficient to disturb, for the second, the ball of arrivals which continues, in a Doha which all the time seeks to easy out its picture as a lot as attainable in a Disneyland setting which is slowly coming to life.

By Maxime Brigand and Andrea Chazy, in Doha
All statements collected by MB, AC and MR, besides the place famous. // Photographs: MB and AC.

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