Up to 1,600 fans from each of the 32 teams are being recruited for a fan-themed section of the ceremony on November 20. They will perform a chant or song specific to each country.

“The camera will focus on each national fan group in turn,” the recruits have been told about the show at Al Bayt Stadium north of Doha.
“The camera will focus on each national fan group in turn,” the recruits have been told about the show at Al Bayt Stadium north of Doha. (AA Archive)

Up to 1,600 fans of the teams that qualified for this year’s World Cup are being recruited for an all-expenses-paid trip to Qatar to sing in the opening ceremony and stay for at least two weeks promoting positive social media content about the football tournament and the host nation.

Fans from each of the 32 teams are needed for a five-minute, fan-themed section of the ceremony before Qatar plays Ecuador in the opening match on November 20. 

They will perform a chant or song specific to each country, chosen by the organisers, according to documents seen by The Associated Press.

"We will share with you the chant/song selected from your country to ensure you are familiar with it," organisers told the fans.

The programme has excluded “persons with obvious political affiliation” and aims to recruit 30 to 50 supporters from each team who were able to show “their status as a purist fan,” the documents state.

“The camera will focus on each national fan group in turn,” the recruits have been told about the show at Al Bayt Stadium north of Doha. 

"Be ready in your shirt, flags and scarves to cheer and shout."

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#IAMAFAN

The fans are being offered economy-class flights and use of apartments worth thousands of dollars to stay until at least December 4, or for the entire tournament if they choose, plus a daily allowance of $68 (250 Qatari riyals).

The opening ceremony project is an extension of a longer-term plan by World Cup organisers to choose "Fan Leaders" in each country who are asked to be social media influencers using the hashtag “IAMAFAN.”

Those key fans are asked to “incorporate, where appropriate” content provided by Qatari organisers and support the World Cup “by ‘liking’ and re-sharing third party posts.”

The fan leaders have been told “we are not asking you to (be) a mouthpiece for Qatar,” but “it would obviously not be appropriate for you to disparage” the country or the tournament.

The influencers have also had to agree to “report any offensive, degrading or abusive comments” on social media to the organising committee and, if possible, take screenshots.

In a statement, Qatari organisers said they had consulted with a “Fan Leader Network” of more than 450 people in 59 countries to help improve the World Cup for visitors. 

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies