Qatar hires ‘$8 fake fans’ to fill empty stadiums

Jassim Bin Hamad stadium in Doha, Qatar (Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad)

Jassim Bin Hamad stadium in Doha, Qatar (Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad)

Migrant workers in Qatar get one dollar an hour for sitting in the stadiums and pretending to have fun, to applaud and to do the wave, AP reports. Sometimes they even were asked to dress like Qataris in white robes and head-scarves.

“Qatar has a true passion for sports. Everything in our country revolves around sport,” Aphrodite Moschoudi, Qatar presenter in 2019 world championships host selection, said in November.

READ MORE: Qatari royals to build £200mn London mega-mansion

However, Qataris do not attend matches so often. A poll published this year by Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics says two-thirds of Qataris surveyed did not attend any football matches during the previous season, while two-thirds of respondents said fake fans were one of the reasons to keep them away from a stadium.

READ MORE: Too hot: Top FIFA official says 2022 Qatar World Cup will move due to heat

That is why Qatari officials need someone to fill the empty places in stadiums, according to the Associated Press. 30 Qatari riyals, equivalent to eight American dollars for migrant workers, though, is good money and some of them even enjoy their “work.”

“Shaking my body all over … being in the crowd and shouting and dancing,” Adu, a worker from Ghana told the agency. “Being there and getting paid is a plus for me.”

Besides, some stadiums are equipped with free WiFi networks and workers may send e-mails to relatives and get news from home.

The sportsmen say it is a “bizarre” situation.

“Bizarre, but we prefer that to playing in front of nobody,” French volleyballer Edouard Rowlandson. Officials at FIVB, an international volleyball governing body, said it was news for them.

READ MORE: See no evil, hear no evil? UK building firm linked to Qatari human rights violations

This is not the first controversial issue concerning 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Earlier this year it was reported that 185 Nepalese workers died in 2013 while building infrastructure for the World Cup and almost 1,000 died since the country was proclaimed the host of championship.

Numerous human rights campaigners denounce the labor conditions currently in the country as being a kind of servitude and say the country’s legislation requires an urgent overhaul.

“Qatar is a modern day slave state,” International Trade Union Confederation’s General Secretary Sharan Burrow told RT.

Qatar uses the Kafala system to govern its domestic migrant workers. The system requires that foreign workers be sponsored by an employer who is responsible for their visa and legal status. Human Rights groups have found evidence that the Kafala system is being manipulated, with employers denying migrants’ wages and refusing to grant them an exit visa to leave the country.

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