World Cup officials have made a last-minute change to the Fan Leader Network scheme, which includes a selection of fans from each country who are paid to attend the tournament. Shortly before the participants’ trip to Qatar, the organizers allegedly informed them by email that their allowance for daily expenses would be reduced.
The preparation for the 2022 World Cup has been mired in controversy, with many pointing to the moral issues surrounding Qatar. The Fan Leader Network scheme includes some fans who are paid for airfare and accommodation on the condition that they sing at the games and spread positive messages about their experience.
Also known as the paid supporters program, participants are allegedly instructed to sit together, wave flags and report critical social media posts. Flights, accommodation and match tickets have been included as part of the deal, which required them to sign a “code of conduct” before arriving in Doha.
It was also intended to include a £60 per day allowance on a pre-loaded card, but reports they indicate that the money, which was mainly for food and drink, has been withdrawn at the last moment.
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It is understood that all members of the Fan Leader Network still traveled to Qatar, despite the late change. Supporters don’t have long to wait until the tournament’s opening match, with the host nation taking on Ecuador on Sunday afternoon.
Much has been made of Qatar’s alcohol policy in the run-up to the Middle East’s first World Cup, with the country’s royal family pressing FIFA to give Budweiser’s key sponsors less visibility. The beer will not be available to buy in and around the stadiums, with £11.60 glasses available only in designated fan parks.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino defended some of the contentious issues surrounding the upcoming tournament in a stunning press conference on Saturday.
“Honestly, yes. [an alcohol ban] It’s the biggest problem we have for the World Cup, I’ll sign immediately, go to the beach and relax until December 18,” he said. Every decision we make in this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA.
“I think personally if you can’t have a beer for three hours a day, you’ll survive. Of course, there are things that don’t work. [in Qatar] and they need to be addressed. But this moral lesson that he gives, one-sided, is just hypocrisy.”
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