Qatar migrant workers paid to be sports ‘fans’

Author: AlArabiya, Published on: 17 December 2014

"Qatar migrant workers paid to be sports ‘fans’", 17 Dec 2014

The men grappled with each other to board the quickly filling bus. Others wriggled in through the windows, scaling the outside, using the large wheels as footholds and leaving scuff-marks on the white exterior with their shoes.

These weren’t refugees fleeing disaster. They were migrant workers in 2022 World Cup host Qatar, fighting to earn a few dollars. The job: Pretend to be a sports fan.

When the world’s second-richest people per capita can’t find time or be bothered to fill their sports arenas, migrant workers are paid to take their place.

Thirty Qatar riyals - equivalent to $8 - won’t buy a beer in the luxury waterside hotel in Doha, the capital, where Qatari movers-and-shakers unwind. But for this pittance, workers from Africa and Asia sprint under blinding sun in the Doha industrial zone where they’re housed and surround a still-moving bus like bees on honey. 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...

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