A group of England fans will be paid by Qatar to attend the World Cup and chant on command at matches and the opening ceremony, it was claimed today, with the Welsh also signed up to a scheme branded ‘sinister’ by critics.
The 40 football supporters from each country will reportedly be instructed to deliver positive messages about their experience in the Gulf state and report critical social media posts.
The idea is that the fans should sit together, singing and waving flags for the television cameras, The Times claims.
Influencers and celebrities have also reportedly been signed up by Qatar, which counts David Beckham as an official ambassador.
Supporters from Wales have also signed up to the so-called Fan Leader Programme, along with 30 other nations’ fans. But critics have said they are being used as part of a ‘sinister, distasteful’ marketing exercise.
In return for staying in Qatar for a minimum of two weeks, they will enjoy free flights and accommodation as well as £60-a-day spending money on a pre-loaded card from tournament sponsor Visa.
They will also reportedly receive complimentary tickets to the opening ceremony and matches having signed a ‘code of conduct’ before they take off for Doha on November 17.
They will be urged to post favourable comments about the tournament on social media and report ‘any offensive, degrading or abusive comments’ to organisers, preferably with screenshots.
One document seen by the newspaper, sent to fan leaders, says of the opening ceremony: ‘In celebration of the fans around the world, over the period of five minutes, fan chants from each nation will be played and you will be expected to stand up, sing the song/chant, wave your flags and represent your country.
Fans paid to be in Qatar will sit together, singing and playing for the television cameras. Influencers and celebrities have also reportedly been signed up by Qatar, which counts David Beckham as an official ambassador (pictured in Doha with the so-called Fan Leader Network)
World Cup organisers are paying for some fans to attend this year’s tournament in Qatar
Organisers want fans to only post positive comments about the tournament on social media
‘The camera will focus on each national fan group in turn. We will share with you the chant/song selected from your country to ensure you are familiar with it.’
In bold red letters it adds: ‘Be ready in your shirt, flags and scarves to cheer and shout.’
The English Football Association have said they found out the full details of the plan from the media and claim they are not involved.
A spokesman said: ‘We were told this was an opportunity to engage with fans from all competing nations to ensure that the voice of supporters was clearly heard in the planning for the World Cup and that many international football associations were being approached
‘We have had no more involvement with the scheme, and no sight of the “code of conduct” or any of the terms and conditions of involvement.’
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) confirmed the policy of inviting groups of supporters to the finals as guests after reports by Dutch public broadcaster NOS, which said on Sunday that Qatar was paying for flights and hotels for a group of 50 Dutch fans.
‘As the tournament nears, we have invited our most active fan leaders to personally nominate a small selection of fans to join us as our guests, as a manner of thanking them for their collaboration,’ a spokesman for the SC said.
On its website, the Qatar World Cup describes its Fan Leaders programme as a network of around 400 fans and influencers who have offered ‘insights, research, content creation and message amplification’ for the tournament.
Organisers did not say how many fans they had invited, or provide financial details.
The World Cup starts later this month and will continue until the final on December 18
Ex-England gay footballer slams FIFA decision to host World Cup in Qatar
A former England footballer who is planning to come out as gay has criticised FIFA‘s decision to host the World Cup in Qatar.
It has been revealed that the star may talk about his sexuality live on television.
He thinks that Qatar’s anti-LGBT stance should have meant that FIFA did not make the call to hold the World Cup there. The tournament kicks off in November.
A source told The Sun: ‘He thinks it was wrong to decide the tournament should be played in Qatar when they criminalise homosexual relationships.
‘Obviously England will be taking part but he doesn’t blame them. He’s heartened to see the current squad of players will support the LGBTQ movement and captain Harry Kane will wear the OneLove rainbow armband.’
The unnamed former footballer is also hoping for protests against Qatar’s militant view on homosexuality, according to the source.
It comes after Gary Lineker earlier this month said that two gay Premier League footballers were considering coming out during the tournament.
He said that if they were to announce their sexuality, it would send a ‘strong message’ to Qatar.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar due to its strict Islamic rulers.
It has also emerged that Amnesty International has urged Fifa to pay at least £350 million of compensation to Qatar stadium workers for the ‘human rights abuses’ they have been subjected to.
In its code of conduct, the SC asks the Fan Leaders to agree to incorporate its content in their social media posts and to support the World Cup by liking and re-sharing posts by third parties about it.
It also stated fans are not expected to be a ‘mouthpiece’ for Qatar, but added it ‘would obviously not be appropriate to disparage Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy or the FIFA World Cup’.
Belgian and French media have also reported that selected groups of fans from these countries were offered a free trip to the World Cup by Qatar.
Yesterday it emerged that an advertising campaign featuring David Beckham that claims FIFA‘s Qatar World Cup will be carbon neutral is ‘dangerous and misleading’, climate experts and environmentalists warned.
The promotional material featuring official ambassador Beckham, advertising the controversial tournament due to kick-off in Doha within weeks, has been reported to watchdogs in the UK and across Europe.
FIFA has made lofty promises of hosting the first carbon-neutral World Cup in history, with a carbon footprint of 3.6million tons of equivalent carbon waste which would be offset by eco-friendly initiatives.
The competition, hosted in the Gulf state for the first time in its 92-year history, has already attracted global criticism over Qatar’s murky human rights record and stance on LGBT+ issues.
But academics have now claimed FIFA has underestimated the tournament’s carbon footprint and in reality is likely to emit significantly more pollution than suggested.
Climate experts, footballing bodies, players and fans have since come together and called on FIFA’s sustainability policies to be scrapped as they penned an open letter to the governing body of international football.
Professor Mike Berners-Lee, of Lancaster University, claims the total number of carbon emissions could exceed 10million tons, which would be more than three times FIFA’s original estimate.
Kevin Anderson, a climate professor at Manchester University, described FIFA’s claims as ‘deeply misleading and incredibly dangerous’.
‘There will be a direct human cost to this tournament,’ he told the BBC.
‘This is a huge amount of emissions for one sporting event. It’s these emissions that will have an impact around the world.’
The promotional material for Qatar 2022 featuring official ambassador David Beckham (pictured above in an earlier advertising campaign) has been reported to watchdogs in the UK and across Europe
The tournament, due to be hosted in the Gulf state for the first time in the competition’s 92-year history, has already attracted criticism from across the world over Qatar’s murky human rights record and stance on LGBT+ issues. Mr Beckham has pocketed an undisclosed sum for being an official ambassador for the Qatar World Cup
He thinks that the anti-LGBT stance of Qatar should have prevented FIFA from holding the World Cup there. Pictured: The stadium
A spokesperson for FIFA said: ‘FIFA is fully aware that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time and believes it requires each of us to take immediate and sustainable climate action.
‘FIFA is also fully aware of the impacts that mega-events have on the economy, the natural environment and on people and communities, and has been making substantial efforts to tackle those impacts and, at the same time, to use opportunities to maximise the positive effects of its most iconic tournament.’