We have already headed into the FIFA World Cup week beginning in two days fans have started visiting to cheer their country and witness the sport’s biggest sporting tournaments. It is expected that near about a million fans will visit Qatar a country with a population of less than three million.

Meanwhile, amidst the preparedness, a section of the stronghold associated with the matter is accusing the host nation Qatar of paying fans to attend the game which has already remained under controversies.

Videos are being circulated on social media ahead of the days leading up to the tournament’s grand opening ceremony on the 20th of November showing fans parading on the streets of Doha and welcoming teams arriving for the world cup.

Amidst the spread and the videos going viral fans and other people started making speculation that the fans gathered are state-sponsored, prompting the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to put out a statement in response to the accusations that supporter parades were orchestrated by tournament organizers.

The rumors however have no backing as the claims gathered momentum after it emerged that Qatar has created a Fan Leader Network in order to promote the tournament.

Regarding the Fan Leader Network, an article was published on the FIFA world cup 2022 official website explaining that the Fan Leader Network is a community of 400 fan leaders and influencers from 60 countries, who would contribute fan insight, research, and message amplification during the tournament.

However, the claims have been outrightly denied by the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy saying, "Recent media speculation has portrayed this initiative to be an illicit scheme, paying guest fans in return for coordinated promotion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”

The statement further added, “This insinuation is absolutely false. All fans visiting Qatar as our guests do so voluntarily and unpaid. They are under no obligation to post or share content provided by the SC, or to report content on our behalf."

The committee further added that they will be providing flights, accommodation, and subsistence expenses to the supporters who are associated with this network.

However, many of those have an understanding of the matter and are aware of the ex-pat’s situation in Qatar and have taken to Twitter to explain how some of the fans seen in the clips they have shared are very much ‘real’ supporters.

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Official Statement from World Cup’s Supreme Committee:

“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. 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.

Qatar, and the rest of the world, is comprised of a diverse range of football fans, many of whom share emotional connections with multiple nations. Journalists on the ground who speak and meet these fans are realizing the reality.”

Estimated number of fans expected to travel to Qatar:

The Supreme Committee has estimated that nearly about 1.3 million football fans will be visiting Qatar during the tournament, although separate research found that the number of fans booking tickets is down from previous World Cups.

Reportedly, a main French supporter group is sending a traveling party to Qatar which will be one-sixth the size of their presence which was in Russia back in the 2018 World Cup.

On a different footing, the Dutch FA in conversation with media groups said they have received 3000 applications for every Netherlands game in Qatar in contrast to what it received in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil which stood at 5000 per game.

Other reports also showed that the interest in fetching ticket demands was lower in Poland, Croatia, Switzerland, and Belgium, while only English FA reported a similar number of applications in comparison to previous tournaments.

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