- The Qatar World Cup is giving fans all-expenses-paid trips to the tournament in exchange for positive media coverage.
- The fans must observe a “social media code of conduct” and make positive posts about the tournament.
- They must also report, with screenshots, “any offensive, degrading or abusive comments.”
Qatar World Cup organizers have admitted that they are giving select fans all-expenses-paid trips to the tournament in exchange for positive social media coverage.
Last week, Dutch outlet NOS reported that 50 fans of the Netherlands national team are having their travel and accommodation costs covered by Qatar, and will be present at the Opening Ceremony and the tournament’s opening match between the host and Ecuador on November 20.
In exchange, the fans must observe a “social media code of conduct” and make positive posts about the World Cup, as well as report, with screenshots, “any offensive, degrading or abusive comments” to the tournament’s Supreme Committee.
If the fans do not comply with the agreement, it can be canceled.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Committee confirmed that it is now actively searching for fans from other nations to partake in the scheme.
“As the tournament nears, we have invited our most active fan leaders to personally nominate a small selection of fans to join us as our guests, as a manner of thanking them for their collaboration,” a spokesperson for the Supreme Committee told Reuters.
NOS reported that the 50 Dutch fans attending the World Cup at Qatar’s expense were selected by two “Fan Leaders.”
Qatar’s “Fan Leader Network” includes “400 fan leaders and influencers from 60 countries.” Its role, according to the Supreme Committee, is to contribute to “tournament planning through fan insight, research, content creation, and message amplification.”
The Supreme Committee describes the fans within the network as “leaders within their communities.”
Football Supporters Europe, an umbrella group for soccer fans across Europe, recognized by UEFA, however, dispute that assertion.
“What is very clear is that they are not fan representatives. They are employees or volunteers of the World Cup and should be considered as such,” the group’s executive director Ronan Evain told the Associated Press, per NPR, on Tuesday.
The build-up to the Qatar World Cup has been dominated by concerns over the country’s treatment of migrant workers and its policies on women’s rights and homosexuality.
According to The Guardian, more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the tournament in 2010.
Thirty-seven of those deaths are directly linked to construction of World Cup stadiums, according to The Guardian.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, said last month that his country has faced an “unprecedented campaign” of criticism ahead of the World Cup.
“We initially dealt with the matter in good faith, and even considered that some criticism was positive and useful, helping us to develop aspects of ours that need to be developed,” said Sheikh Tamim, according to Al Jazeera.
“But it soon became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrication and double standards, until it reached a level of ferocity that made many question, unfortunately, about the real reasons and motives behind this campaign.”