/ Current Affairs
Published: 11/11/2022 – 19:28
Changed: 11/11/2022 – 19:24
Argentina fans are seen in Doha ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. GIUSEPPE CACACE AFP
Doha, Qatar (AFP) – Thousands of migrant workers dressed in Argentina, Brazil, and England flags staged a World Cup rally in Doha on Friday, less than ten days before the tournament begins.
According to an AFP journalist, fans of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Harry Kane gathered on the Doha seafront for a march that would normally be prohibited.
The majority of the fans came from Kerala state, India’s football mecca that also accounts for a sizable portion of the 750,000-strong Indian migrant community in Qatar. Qatar has a population of approximately 2.8 million people. The crowds flocked to the social media-organized event, marching behind drummers to the World Cup countdown clock overlooking the Gulf. “Police were informed in advance, and this is our day,” said one organiser who asked to remain anonymous. Demonstrations and rallies are uncommon in Qatar and are usually met with tight security, but police stood back and watched the fans from a safe distance on Friday. “The foreign workers in Qatar love football, and they have purchased a large number of tickets,” the organizer added.
Ghanaian fans celebrate in Lusail ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV AFP
“This will be the first World Cup in an Arab country, but it will also be the first World Cup in South Asia in many ways.”
The fans wore the blue and white stripes of Argentina’s and Brazil’s yellow jerseys, which bore Messi and Neymar’s names, as well as Indian names.
They marched past Doha’s royal palace, where photographing the structure is normally prohibited.
Qatar has come under intense scrutiny for its treatment of foreign workers. Most participants in the football rally refused to give their full names because they did not want their employers to find out. “This is a happy day for us,” said one man, who identified himself as Rajesh. “There will be no politics; we will sing and chant about football, particularly Lionel Messi.” “This is our freedom of expression,” said Aju, another man wearing a Messi shirt.
In Doha, football fans cheer for England. ANDERSEN, Odd AFP
“Of course, some of us have difficult jobs, and we hear the stories, but the World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Qataris have been the most active buyers of tournament tickets, with some low-cost $10 tickets reserved for migrant workers. India has also been a significant ticket sales market. The rally took place the day after the US became the first team to arrive in Qatar for the event, which begins on November 20. “Seeing players arrive in Doha, coaches announcing their squads, and players reacting with such natural and unbridled emotions… has excited the football world,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.
© 2022 AFP