World Cup: Woman shares views on it being held in Qatar
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Qatar has paid a group of England fans to attend the World Cup and act in the country’s interests following fierce backlash on its human rights record. Officials have reportedly given 40 fans a most-expenses-paid trip to the football tournament, provided they follow a series of specific orders. A “code of conduct” will bind them to what supporter groups have branded a “sinister, distasteful” marketing campaign.
Sources have told The Times that Qatari officials have offered the fans free flights and apartment accommodation when they arrive in Doha on November 17.
Members of the Fan Leader Programme also reportedly receive complimentary tickets and £60 worth of spending money a day loaded onto a Visa card.
Documents sent to the fans stipulate that the fans must serve several roles.
Their first duties come during the opening ceremony when organisers play “fan chants” from each competing nation.
England fans and their counterparts from other countries also in the programme are expected to “stand up, sing the song/chant, wave your flags and represent your country”.
The document adds that officials will select and share the song or chant themselves.
Cameras tracking the audience will “focus on each national fan group” in the crowd at the ceremony, with attendees expected to turn out with enthusiasm.
A passage written in red asks fans to “be ready in your shirt, flags and scarves to cheer and shout”.
Sources familiar with the document add that it also asks fans to “report any offensive, degrading or abusive comments”.
And anyone accepted into the scheme will receive complimentary tickets to the opening ceremony on the condition they stay for two weeks in Doha.
A second document reportedly explains fan leaders must accept the stated terms and conditions.
England fans aren’t the only people flying to the country as part of the programme.
Around 40 supporters from Wales and 30 other countries competing in the competition will join them.
The programme has been met with derision from independent supporter groups, who have raised concerns.
Speaking to The Times, Ronan Evain, the executive director of Football Supporters Europe, said that “at worst” the fans involved are “a mouthpiece for the Supreme Committee”.
Neither the Football Supporters’ Association nor the FA has endorsed the programme, and Qatari organisers have denied fans have an “obligation to promote or do anything”.
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