Football World Cup: The Followers Screamed for Qatar their Passion Hid a Secret

Posted by World Wide Tickets And Hospitality on December 1st, 2022

Football World Cup: The Followers Screamed for Qatar their Passion Hid a Secret

Midway through the following half of Qatar’s match against Senegal at the Football World Cup, the rhythm stopped as a man in a bucket hat and shades rose and asked for quiet. Moments before, a section of the crowd more than a thousand strong, all men, all of them in identical maroon T-shirts with the word Qatar in English and Arabic had been chanted in unison at the direction of four fan managers.

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Just now the sea of men knew what was likely, and they followed the order and fell into a strange silence as the game noise swirled around them inside Al Thumama Stadium. Then a wave was made. And the crowd burst back to life. Play, the Maroon! they sang over and over in Arabic, a note to the nickname of Qatar’s national squad. The men linked guns in long lines and jumped up and down. The floor below them shook. The scene was more reminiscent of soccer stadiums in South America and Europe than in Qatar, and the shouting section conjured those of the ultras, a highly coordinated soccer fan culture with roots in Italy that can be found around the globe, as well as in North Africa and the Middle East.

That was the point. The followers’ noise filled the stadium, as it had five days before during Qatar’s opening game against Ecuador. Their numbers expressed strength. Their unrelenting energy was infectious. Just the body art on many of them gave them away. The tattoos, which are exceedingly rare and highly frowned upon in Gulf society, seemed to indicate the followers weren’t Qatari. So, who were they? And where did they come from?

Imported Sound in Qatar World Cup

The plan was devised at the start of 2022, as the Football World Cup was finally coming into view. Qatar had been beset by criticism ever since it won the rights to host the Football World Cup: over a tainted vote that brought it, over its treatment of migrant workers, over the capacity of the tiny country to host and house more than a million tourists. But in the background was also another common criticism: that the country had no soccer society.

Qatar had never qualified for a Football World Cup on its merits. The Qatar Stars League is one of the wealthiest in the region, with state-of-the-art air-conditioned stadiums. But then the crowds for squads like Al Sadd and Al Rayyan often number in the hundreds than the thousands. Who, the organizers speculated, would fill the stadiums when Qatar played? Who would offer the soundtrack? The answer was to tap into the area's already fertile extremist culture and trade in it.

Just that same culture is an unlikely fit with the commercialized reality of Qatar’s Football World Cup. The code of ultra-culture is hostile and deeply anti-authority and in constant struggle with the police and the news media. In the Middle East and North Africa, ultras have been governmentally influential, too: Egyptian extremists played a key role in the 2011 Arab Spring that toppled Hosni Mubarak as president, and such was their street power and admiration that ultras were barred by one of his successors, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, afterward he came to power in a coup.

The songs made on the bleachers in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Lebanon have been the soundtracks to revolutionary rallies, too. Just inside stadiums, they can fill even the most sterilized spaces with passion, color, and sound. So, in April, a test event was organized in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. Hundreds of Lebanese students and followers of a local club, Nejmeh, were hired to make a proof-of-idea film at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium by restoring the ambiance an ultra-group can offer. The video shows hundreds of followers chanting, displaying banners, and letting off explosives. A capo, the word used for a fan who leads the songs, had been flown in from the main ultra-group of the Turkish club Galatasaray to give direction. Galatasaray, too, had been found on purpose. It has one of the most revered ultra-scenes in the world. But the Lebanese told they required no guidance.

“No! We took them! one Lebanese ultra-Friday. He declined to give his full name, a widespread practice in the ultra-scene and stiffened at the idea he had to be taught how to organize a group of hard-core fans. The Turkish ultras, he supposed, were going to come to Qatar, but they were shocked by us; we have been doing this for a long time.”

The video amazed the right people in Doha. Through word of mouth, young Lebanese fans were presented an exceptional deal: free flights, accommodations, game tickets, and food, plus a small allowance, to bring some ultra-culture to Qatar’s Football World Cup matches. The fans came in mid-October to rehearse their planned actions and to prepare their newly written chants.

Joining the tournament was to be an understanding beyond the reach of most common followers in the Arab world. Lebanon, for example, is in a serious economic crisis. Permitting to the World Bank, youth joblessness is at 30 percent. Thousands of citizens are escaping the country. Without Qatar’s help, none of the men wearing maroon T-shirts would have been able to offer to attend the games in the Gulf. To go to a Football World Cup is a dream, the Lebanese ultra-told. Although it was not just Lebanese admirers who joined the effort: The group of 1,500 fans also included Egyptians, Algerians, and a few Syrians. Money, the ultra-stated, was not the sole motivating factor.

“It is our responsibility to support an Arab country, he stated. We share the same language. We share the same culture. We are limbs on the same hand. We want to show the world a little special. You will see something different.”

In the Stands in Football World Cup

By kickoff at Al Thumama Stadium on Friday, Qatar’s 1,500 agreed ultras had gathered in their chosen section behind one of the goals in the same maroon T-shirts: Qatar on the front, All for Al Annabi on the back. The national anthem was, and the ultras sang it as if it were their own. When it stopped, the Lebanese capos beat their beats and led the ultras in an Icelandic thunder. Qatari people do not support the squad like this, told Abdullah Aziz al-Khalaf, a 27-year-old Qatari human supplies manager, who remain standing in the concourse watching the ultras work with a mixture of joy and bemusement. As in Qatar, we do not go to the game too much.

Another Qatari, a 16-year-old scholar and Al Rayyan fan, Ali al-Samekh, approved of the atmosphere. I like it, he said. It is exciting! No, I do not want to, he replied, shaking his head with a shy smile. Qatar’s World Cup organizers did not respond to questions about the supporters, or the efforts to identify them and bring them to the tournament world Cup. A man wearing a polo shirt with the logo of Aspire Academy, Qatar’s billion-dollar talent farming project, filmed the crowd for the full 90 minutes.

Yet the enthusiasm felt real. The frustration did, too, as Senegal scored twice. Up the grandstand, every few rows, fan leaders in white T-shirts screamed and urged the faithful to sing harder, imitating a phenomenon often seen in ultra-crowds in Italy, Germany, and Morocco: You sing louder and make more than noise when you are losing. They play the drums beating louder. The chants come back. The whole crowd, not only those after the goal, finally sprang to life when Mohammed Muntari scored Qatar’s first goal in a Football World Cup match. Just not everyone got the memo: Amid the pulsating festivities, a security guard hurried to the front in an unsuccessful effort to ask the ultras to sit down. But then the joy was short-lived when Senegal scored the third goal. The game stopped 3-1. A few hours later, Qatar became the first nation to be eliminated from this Football World Cup.

“I am unhappy, of course, told Ahmed, an Egyptian. He had met the group at the game and wore the same unique maroon T-shirt, but he stated he lives in Qatar.”

We are a group of Arab people at work here, to support Qatar, he told, adding, if we were working in England, we would support England, too. The crowd softened away. The Qatari extremists were only ever here for the group stage. Most of them will pack up and fly home to Lebanon after Qatar’s final game, versus the Netherlands on Tuesday. Just before they go, they will make their noise once more, with feeling. Worldwide Tickets and Hospitality offers Football World Cup tickets for the Qatar Football World Cup at the best prices. Football fanatics and buy Netherlands Vs USA Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.

“The next game, Ahmed told, I am sure thing we will win.”

Soaking up the atmosphere at Qatar Football World Cup

Drinking alcohol before, during, and after soccer matches is a habit loved by many supporters around the world. But, at Qatar Football World Cup, alcohol is not as readily accessible. That is because two days before the start of the tournament 2022, soccer’s world governing body FIFA proved a ban on alcoholic drinks at the eight stadiums hosting the Football World Cup. While some followers were delighted with the ruling, others were left puzzled and frustrated with 21-year-old student Arnov Paul-Choudhury from England.

“It is the Football World Cup, its football, you need to be able to taste around the stadium, Paul-Choudhury told CNN Sport in Doha on the day of the statement. I just do not think they’re doing the right things to entice followers.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino argued, speaking admirers would survive not being able to drink for three hours a day and, overall, he has been proven right. Once the Football World Cup got underway, CNN spoke to several followers about the alcohol ban, and alcohol or the lack thereof at stadiums did not seem to be very much of a problem for them. I would normally have a few beers, but everybody is just getting on with it, England fan Nick Cottrill asked CNN at the FIFA Fan Festival.

Everybody here is simply happy and there is so much pessimism back home. It is all running well, added Cottrill who was visiting Qatar with his father, Gary. There was one potential problem about not being able to drink at stadiums, according to the Cottrill in that from their practice matches were a bit less boisterous, though that has not certainly been a sad thing. Normally, so many people go over the top, Gary Cottrill told CNN. It is fine to have alcohol, but those people who come for the sake of triggering worry and being insufferable are being stopped from coming.

Sourcing alcohol

The sale and consumption of alcohol have been a highly controversial issue since Qatar was first revealed as the Football World Cup host 12 years ago. The Muslim country is very conservative and firmly regulates alcohol sales and consumption. In Qatar, it’s illegal to be seen drunk in public, and those who violate this could face legal penalties. According to UK government advice on moving to Qatar, drinking in a public place could end in a prison term of up to six months and/or a fine of up to 3,000 Qatar Rial.

In September, Qatar had told it would allow ticketed fans to buy alcoholic beer at Football World Cup soccer games starting three hours before kick-off and for one hour after the final whistle, although not during the match-up. Then, two days before the first match, FIFA proved that no alcohol would be sold at the stadiums which will host the tournament’s 64 games. Alcohol would only be provided in selected fan parks and other licensed venues all around Doha, FIFA told in a statement.

Some followers can still consume alcohol at games albeit at a price. Supporters can purchase a Match Hospitality package, with prices ranging from 0 to ,950 per match, for varying services, including alcohol. Alcohol is also offered at licensed hotel restaurants and bars around Doha, and ex-pats living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system, according to UK government advice. The FIFA Fan Festival also sells Budweiser beer between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. meaning fans who want to drink absolutely can. But for a lot of followers who have traveled thousands of miles to be in Qatar, alcohol refueling wasn’t the reason they’ve come to a Football World Cup.

Banisakher is in Doha to follow the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) with his partner, Mireya Jurado. Like many, the couple tell the restrictions around drinking in front of venues have had very little effect on their trip. There is a remarkable family atmosphere in Qatar’s capital, with fans loving the city when they aren’t watching games.

“We’re here to watch the football games, soak up the culture. The architecture is beautiful. We’re having a great time,” clarified Jurado.

Souq Waqif, an area of the city center of Doha, is an area popular with followers and is frequently filled with thousands of people supporting different squads. Despite often being crammed into tight areas, interactions are always friendly between fans. This, of course, could still be the case with the existence of alcohol, but major soccer tournaments have earlier been marred with fan violence and hooliganism so far unseen at Qatar World Cup. Notably, the Euro 2020 final at Wembley was eclipsed by extreme alcohol and medication misuse, agreeing to a report appointed by the English Football Association.

A safer Football World Cup?

The lack of alcohol around stadiums at the Qatar World Cup has also decreased the risk of crowd-related problems intensifying into major incidents, tells one expert. Let’s consider if you’re taking your family to watch a game, Dr. Sean Mottaleb, a senior healthcare leader who works for the emergency, crisis, and disaster preparation team at Qatar World Cup, spoke on CNN. Would you feel safe if you have somebody who is intoxicated sitting next to you and they don’t have that much control over their behavior? I would say this event is not only for hardcore football fans but also for everybody. It’s for everybody around the world. Everybody has the right to enjoy, everybody has the right to feel safe.

In terms of security and healthcare issues, Mottaleb says he is happy with the way the tournament has unfolded so far. There have been very few crowd-related issues and Mottaleb suggests the decision from tournament organizers to ban alcohol around stadiums was as much to do with security concerns as it was to do with cultural reasons.

“We measure the risks associated with those who are intoxicated, and the risk becomes higher,” he said.

Sometimes, you might have small incidents right, left and center and those incidents might lead to what we call an [snowball] effect, a major incident. So, since you know that there is a risk, and there is a potential for harm, what would you do? You eliminate that element. The Football World Cup finishes on December 18, meaning there is plenty of time for things to change. But the feeling on the ground is that this FIFA World Cup has shown that soccer can be enjoyed without excessive alcohol.

If anything, there is bemusement among followers that the issue is getting so much attention back in their home countries when all they want to see is good action on the pitch. Muttalib told the next tournament held across Mexico, US and Canada may look to learn lessons from Qatar but, in truth, an alcohol ban in 2026 would be very unlikely.

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