Qatar’s local organizing body for this year’s upcoming World Cup has denied accusations that the crowds filmed in Doha were fake.
Videos of fans cheering for England in the country’s capital recently went viral on Twitter and TikTok but immediately drew skepticism from media outlets and social media users.
“What’s the weekly wage for an #England fan in Qatar at the moment?” a Twitter commenter asked.
“Think they missed the rehearsals for their acting parts,” another chimed in.
“Qatar starting to pay fans so it looks good,” wrote a TikTok user.
“These guys have supported England, Portugal, Argentina and Spain on my FYP already,” said another.
In response, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee released a statement denying allegations that members of the crowd were paid to drum up excitement for the tournament set to kick off on Sunday.
“Fans from all over the world – many of whom have made Qatar their home – have contributed to the local atmosphere recently, organizing fan walks and parades throughout the country, and welcoming the various national teams at their hotels,” the statement read. “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.”
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of Indian fans were filmed cheering and chanting for the English team as the athletes arrived at the five-star Souq Al Wakra hotel.
The fans, who told The Guardian that they came all the way from Kerala, India, have also denied allegations that they are paid actors. They defended their fandom by displaying their knowledge of the Premier League and the teams they support.
According to the fans, they supported England growing up and have kept abreast of the latest developments in the league.
“None of us is getting paid,” one fan was quoted as saying. “We are diehard England fans. My favorite player was Beckham, but now it is Saka. If someone offered to pay us to support England we would turn them down. We are genuine supporters. Many of us grew up watching Beckham and Michael Owen. Our love is to this team.”