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“Football is global and universal” - Fatma Al Nuaimi blasts claims of fake fans at Qatar World Cup

9:48 AM GMT 28/11/2022
Fatma Al Nuaimi
The 2022 World Cup is well and truly underway in Qatar, with fans enjoying the exciting football and unbelievable results in Doha.

  • Fans enjoying ‘compact’ World Cup, soaking in Doha’s atmosphere
  • 2022 World Cup has seen plenty of Arab and Asian fans

  • Critics with open minds shifting their stance on Qatar

WHAT HAPPENED? Fatma Al Nuaimi, Communications Executive Director at Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), has lambasted critics who have termed the World Cup “plastic” and also claimed that many of the local fans in Doha were fake and paid fans.

She went on to highlight that every World Cup host nation has faced its share of criticism and it has been the same with Qatar. However, she felt that by the time the World Cup ends, the critics will shift their stances.

Al Nuaimi also highlighted how the atmosphere in Doha is electric with World Cup fever raging throughout the city. She also felt that fans have realised what a unique opportunity the 2022 World Cup has offered in terms of watching multiple matches on the same day.

WHAT WAS SAID: “I think every nation which is staging a global event does get its share of criticism. Even Olympic hosts get scrutinised and criticised. We can see some of the criticism is constructive and we can make it better. But some of it is unfair. We try not to focus on distractions and try to deliver the tournament in the best way for everyone,” she told GOAL. 

“Today, this is where we are. The tournament is happening and people are enjoying the World Cup. There are critics who came here and have started to shift their tone and change their minds. By the end of the tournament, we hope that people will actually have an open mind when it comes to this World Cup.”

WHAT DID SHE SAY ON FAKE FANS? Al Nuaimi also said that there is a misconception that because a lot of Asian fans support strong teams in the World Cup, they are being painted as fake and paid fans, which is not the case.

She went on to lambast those insinuating that such fans are not genuine followers of football. 

“When the World Cup was hosted in Brazil, you found a lot of South American people in the stands. It was because of geographical proximity. Whereas, if the tournament is in Europe then you will find the hype and fans coming from Europe. Here in the Arab world, you will find a lot of people from the Middle East or from Asia. If the World Cup is happening in your neighbouring country, people will come. And the “paid fans” criticism, I mean, like, it shows some sense of racism.

“At the end of the day, football is universal. It is normal for a lot of people that you would have an international team that you love and international players that you follow. A few journalists actually started interviewing these fans, and they were surprised that people named every player in their favourite team. Every country in the world would have a population composed of people from different nationalities.  You will always have, for example, a local team that you support, but you will always have an international team and football is global and universal.

“The fact that people claim that they are paid fans is unacceptable and shows racism.” 

WHAT’S MORE: Al Nuaimi also said that fans have realised after coming to Doha that it is quite easy to watch multiple games on the same day, given all the stadiums are within an hour’s distance of each other. 

“What a lot of fans have actually said, to a lot of us, is that it's (Qatar) not like how they have been reading and hearing. They said, like, we wish that we knew, we'd have planned it better, or we would have actually stayed more. They actually said that they never understood the compact nature of the World Cup. They said we could have planned to go to more games, but we didn't know that we could actually buy tickets. I wish a lot of media had focused on information that would have helped the fans and their experience in the way they plan and enjoy their World Cup that will be happening for the first time in the region.”

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? The 2022 World Cup is only a start, as per Fatma Al Nuaimi. She highlighted the fact that the country will host the 2023 Asian Cup, 2030 Asian Games and will be on the Formula 1 calendar for the next 10 years. Qatar has already established themselves as a regional and international sporting hub, she stated.