Allegations of ‘fake fans’ at the World Cup in Qatar are growing after a video emerged of supposed England supporters singing ‘It’s Coming Home’ to a completely different tune.
The clip, which emerged earlier this week, showed a group of roughly 20 fans enthusiastically waving England banners and flags.
But they delivered a highly questionable rendition of Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds’ ‘Three Lions’, and were seen to be wearing knock-off England shirts.
It comes after other videos showed large groups of men, mostly of Indian origin, wearing the colours of several national teams including England, Germany and Argentina, leading to speculation they had been ‘hired’ by Qatar to build atmosphere for the competition.
The groups of fans were kitted out in football kits and near-identical banners reading ‘England fans Qatar’ and ‘Germany fans Qatar’ along with drums and instruments not usually associated with supporters from those countries.
Qatari officials rejected claims that the fans were ‘fake’, and denied that they had paid supporters to promote the tournament and support teams to create a positive atmosphere.
But members of the football tournament’s Supreme Committee confirmed to German outlet Deutsche Welle that thousands of fans had been flown to the World Cup and had their hotels and other travel costs covered in exchange for supporting the World Cup on social media.
Dutch outlet NOS meanwhile confirmed that fans involved in the scheme were contractually obliged not to ‘disparage Qatar, the Supreme Committee, or the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022’.
One video showed a presenter asking different groups of fans who will win the World Cup.
Each crowd responds with the name of their team – in English rather than the language native to each country.
Most of the banners held by the fans are also written in English.
The content shared online has led to many speculating the fans were being paid by authorities to make up the numbers for their controversial tournament, something Qatar strongly denies.
A video shared online showed several groups of fans with similar kit and banners being asked who would win the World Cup
Speculation grew as fans of different countries shouted their responses in English rather than their team’s national language
Qatar has denied claims it has paid for fake fans, arguing that football was hugely popular with its Indian community
Fans from across the world are arriving in Qatar ahead of the first match on Sunday, but some have suggested many are ‘fake’
The Qatari government claims the large Indian population in the country are real football fans who back various national teams from around the world.
Gianni Infantino dismissed suggestions that the fans were fake as racist in a press conference today where he defended the Qatari regime and accused Europeans of double standards.
In an extraordinary hour-long speech, the FIFA president said: ‘I am reading that these people don’t look English so they can’t cheer for England, they look like Indians. What is that? Can someone who looks Indian not cheer for England, Spain or Germany?
‘You know what it is? It is racist, pure racist.’
FIFA President called accusations that the fans had been paid to express support ‘pure racist’
Gianni Infantino condemned allegations that Indian football supporters were paid actors
He also said: ‘I think for what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years we should be apologising for next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.
‘Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel (like) a migrant worker.
‘Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian so imagine.
‘What do you do then? You try to engage, make friends. Don’t start accusing, fighting, insulting, you start engaging. And this is what we should be doing.’
World Cup CEO Nasser Al Khater claimed football was hugely popular with Indians in Qatar and rejected the idea any fans were fake.
He said: ‘We have a lot of genuine supporters in Qatar that are from the south of India that love football and they are genuine fans.
‘They are true fans of football.’