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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Report: Migrant expats in Qatar paid to fill stadiums as ‘fans’

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

As Qatar beefs up its sports profile by successfully winning hosting rights for a range of different international sporting events, it appears organizers have had to get creative to boost attendance at various matches and games.

According to a new report from the Associated Press, one method has been to “hire” construction workers and others pressed for cash to fill the stands.

Reporters for the news wire attended an international beach volleyball event last month with hundreds of men who had squeezed onto buses after being promised around QR20 ($5.50) for their participation.

AP reports:

“They sit through volleyball, handball and football, applaud to order, do the wave with no enthusiasm and even dress up in white robes and head-scarves as Qataris, to plump up ‘home’ crowds…

Thirty riyals buys food for three days when you’re eating just once a day to save money for families back home, workers said. And watching sports, some said, is less tedious than whiling away off-duty hours in Doha’s back-of-beyond industrial zone.”

As news of paid sports fans in Qatar makes the rounds internationally, many have been asking if the nation might be putting the cart before the horse – and if leaders should be working first on inculcating a vibrant sports culture here, before pushing to host so many big events.

Sports culture

To be fair, Qatar is working to do this, through the advent of National Sports Day, and events like the Fan Zone at Katara Cultural Village during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Qatar 2022 football
Qatar 2022 football

However, motivating fans hasn’t been easy.

According to a government survey conducted last year, two-thirds of Qatar residents hadn’t attended a football match here in the previous season. The main reasons included bad weather, awkward match times and traffic congestion.

But 69 percent of the more than 1,000 people surveyed also said that the presence of people paid to attend football matches made them reluctant to attend.

What do you think Qatar could do to boost (actual) fan attendance at games? Thoughts?

26 COMMENTS

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johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Looks like its no longer a secret that such a thing was being done. Use them as and where needed and chase them away when not needed without any question being asked…..

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Kind of like movie extras. Use them where needed, or not. Nothing but pawns in the Qatari shell game.

terracotta
terracotta
6 years ago

who were this 1000 people?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago

get paid to watch a few boring games… not a bad job

Althani
Althani
6 years ago

Wow paid to watch a football match? Damn they’re having fun :p

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago
Reply to  Althani

It’s your assumption that they have “fun”. Stick to what is and not what you perceive.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago

Yeah i bet they’re suffering watching that football game, Pure torture at it’s finest mate

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Althani

Most of these guys are cricketers and could care less about football.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Me too, i hate football

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

They should pay the same amount to Qataris and force them to sit in the stadium. But, no, they can only do this with the poor laborers who get less than 1,000 Riyals per month. It freaking reminds me of North Korea.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago

If Qatari’s needed the money, Sure.

DickDePilot
DickDePilot
6 years ago

They could take the name of every person who pays for a ticket and make sure that they actually turn up. Far too many occasions (especially the Tennis) the best seats are snapped up by people who can’t even be bothered to attend (and I am talking about the finals!!!)

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
6 years ago

At least the rent-a-crowd gives these people a few hours away from their cramped living conditions and the chance to get paid watching sports. At least an artificial atmosphere is better than nothing. Made such a difference when a crowd got bussed into Lusail Race Circuit. Possibly simply run free buses from the Industrial Area and waive admission charges might be enough for some. Might be a way in local teams gaining some loyal support if they welcome these people.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

Wonder what the ratio of worker to Qatari is in their value of life to the local pop..

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Old news

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I knew they bused in workers to watch the Qatar Stars League but they weren’t paid, but did get free food, but hey if they are offering to pay people to watch football who cares. Much worse things happening in the world. I guess it would only be a problem if they tied them to the seats and made them sing the national athemn…..

Sminto Antony [sAm]
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Haha good one!!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

I have said all along that entry to the WC2022 games will either be free or at a minimal cost for migrant workers simply to avoid the world looking at half-empty stadiums on tv, and I see no reason to change my mind..

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

most boring WC games end up with empty seats.. however games with brand name national teams demand attention and fans show up… don’t underestimate the purchasing power of the GCC where crowds of Kuwaitis, Saudis and Emiraties will fill the seats when a team like Italy or Argentina will play

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

We shall see. I still believe that very few of the “normal” football fan will show up in Qatar.

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

Initial rounds of some tourneys are filled by students from all expat schools…esp daytime matches.

hohum
hohum
6 years ago

What do you think Qatar could do to boost (actual) fan attendance at games? Thoughts?.. Not do this at international sporting events, I was one of the lucky ones who made it in 15 minutes before the kickoff off the Asia cup final as they were shutting the gates , yet ticket holders were still refused entry before kickoff. Our seating area was full of people who said they were bused in hours earlier and didn’t have to pay for tickets.

Rien
Rien
6 years ago
Reply to  hohum

I was turned away from the Asia Cup final, despite having purchased the tickets almost a month ahead of the final match … reason, the stadium was filled by workers (from Zikreet, Misaeed & Al-Khor) who were paid to fill the seats, as the organizers feared that people won’t show up for the match (as was the case for almost every single match of the Asia cup, prior to the final).

Edward
Edward
6 years ago

So I guess it occurred to no one in Qatar that maybe the country just isn’t big enough to fill these seats? The population is only 2.2M, maybe half of those are economically active (as opposed to laborers bused between work and far-off home with no discretionary time or income). This is simply a tiny base from which to pull fans for ridiculous sports like beach volleyball and swimming.

It’s like the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico hosting major international sporting events; it would be foolish there, too, if their goals are to create buzz and fill the seats.

Though busing people in for pay is a good idea; a win-win I suppose, but hardly a sustainable solution.

Max
Max
6 years ago

I’m with you on the congestion and parking after a days work the hassle and stress of driving to the stadium to much. It would need to Liverpool against Man U to be worth the effort. Just out of interest does any players in the Qatari team play abroad in any of the big leagues?

HumanOnly
HumanOnly
6 years ago

This article really made me laugh! I can’t believe that they needed to pay someone to fake being a fan, it’s almost pathetic. ….but hey that would be nice if they do that for the world cup 2022 🙂

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