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Qatar 2022 World Cup Fake Fans, also known as Qatar World Cup Paid Fans, refers to multiple reports of Qatari higher-ups allegedly paying workers and migrants from Bangladesh, India and elsewhere to be football fans for every country at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar due to lack of travel and accessibility to the country and multiple people wanting to boycott Qatar's hosting, therefore not attending in person. To avoid the lack of a passionate crowd, the fans were purportedly paid to be there, host chants and participate in rallies and parades. In November 2022, multiple memes and viral videos surfaced that showed the fans not knowing player names, country names or proper chants.
Before the 2022 World Cup started, multiple videos allegedly showed fake fans repping different countries during the opening fan parades. On November 11th, 2022, TikToker aadhilnaleer posted a video that showed fans decked out in blue and white showing their support for the Argentinian Football team. The video gained over 4.9 million plays and over 316,500 likes in 10 days (shown below, left). On the same day, TikToker msinusmk posted a video of fans supporting Brazil's football team by wearing their colors and dancing in the streets. The video gained over 5.2 million plays and 239,000 likes in 10 days (shown below, right).
The videos went viral on TikTok and Twitter shortly after, with people noting the racial homogeneity of the fans and claiming that they do not look native to the countries they claim to be supporting. Other football fans soon began to comment on this odd occurrence, expressing their belief that Qatar was actually paying people to act like fans and fill the stadiums at the World Cup.
On November 14th, 2022, TikToker nixonnzz posted a video compilation of purportedly Southeast Asian men showing their support for various World Cup teams. The text overlay read, "Do they think we haven't noticed?" and the video gained over 4.1 million plays and 201,400 likes in one week (shown below, left). On November 16th, TikToker dylan.page posted a video commenting on the clips of fans parading in the streets of Qatar, pointing out how some Brazillian fans were filmed sporting shirts that say "Brazil Fans Qatar." The video gained over 6.8 million plays and 614,300 likes in five days (shown below, right).
Claims about fans being paid and even imported from other Asian countries were repeated by commentators on Twitter as well. These claims were also backed up by a The Guardian article that outlined the various responsibilities of these paid fans, including interacting with social media posts.
Memes and parodies started to emerge as the fake fans became more entrenched in the World Cup discourse. For instance, on November 17th, 2022, TikToker elvin_zuke posted a sketch about being a fake England fan in Qatar, gaining roughly 394,500 plays and 38,200 likes in four days (shown below, left). On November 19th, 2022, TikToker alaskkag posted a video with multiple Argentina fans in Qatar, showing that they didn't know much about the team and its players, gaining roughly 2.3 million plays and 112,700 likes in two days (shown below, right).
@elvin_zuke You work as fan in Qatar🤣🇶🇦 #fakefans #worldcup #wq #fans #qatar #qatartiktok #footballiscominghome #wm2022 ♬ Originalton – Zuke
@alaskkag Messi, no lo entenderías #fyp #futbol #argentina #qatar #mundial ♬ sonido original – Alaska🇺🇾
Response from FIFA President
On November 19th, 2022, FIFA President Gianni Infantino denied the claims that there were paid fans in Qatar, going so far as to say that people were racist if they said so. His statement was reported on by LADbible and posted to their Facebook in an infographic that received roughly 2,300 shares in two days (shown below).
@qatarworldcupmemes It’s the Qatar fan shaking his head at the end for me #qatar2022 #worldcup ♬ Knee Deep Deniz love – Deniz Love
@therealslimshivy This World Cup is growing from strength to strength in becoming the most damaging thing to happen to football and sport in general 😤 #fyp #fypシ #worldcup #fifa #qatar #qatarworldcup #fakefans #fifaworldcup #qatar22 #football #footballworldcup #fifawc2022 #qatarworldcup ♬ Unstoppable – Bro Kent