DOHA, Qatar – A general view of signage in Doha before the World Cup. Groups of soccer fans are being paid to come to the World Cup in Qatar, whose organizers announced on Monday that in exchange, they expect them to leave supportive remarks on social media.
Following claims from Dutch public broadcaster NOS, which claimed on Sunday that Qatar was paying for airfare and lodging for a group of 50 Dutch fans, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) acknowledged the practice of bringing groups of supporters as guests to the finals.
In exchange, these fans had to sign a “code of conduct” directing them to share positive remarks about the competition on social media and notify the SC of “any insulting, humiliating, or abusive comments” made by others, ideally with screenshots.
Apparently, two Dutch supporters who claimed they had been chosen by the tournament’s organizers as “Fan Leaders” and who further stated that they had been invited to choose a group of 50 devoted followers for the free trip to Qatar.
A representative for the SC told Reuters that as the tournament draws near, “we have encouraged our most active fan leaders to individually nominate a limited selection of fans to join us as our guests, as a method of rewarding them for their work.”
The Fan Leaders program of the Qatar World Cup is described as a network of about 400 fans and influencers from 60 nations who have provided “insights, research, content creation and message amplification” for the competition.
In addition to withholding any financial information, the organizers did not specify how many fans they had invited.
The SC requests that the Fan Leaders abide by its code of conduct, which includes agreeing to use its content in their social media postings and to support the World Cup by favoriting and sharing posts about it made by other people.
Fans are not expected to serve as Qatar’s “mouthpiece,” according to the statement, but it was also noted that it “would definitely not be proper to denigrate Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy or the FIFA World Cup.”
The media in Belgium and France have also reported that Qatar offered free trips to the World Cup to a few groups of soccer fans from these nations.