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Qatar 2022 World Cup Organizers Compensating Soccer Fans for Positive PR

Ahead of the controversial Qatar World Cup, “Fan Leaders” are being provided with flights, accommodations, and tickets in exchange for good publicity on social media.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been shrouded in controversy since Qatar was named as nation in 2010. The tournament, awash in accusations of bribery, human rights violations, and quite literally thousands of deaths of migrant workers, is now looking to change the narrative as the games draw closer.

Amid global concerns about sportswashing in the Beautiful Game, the plan is (effectively speaking) to bribe soccer fans to say nice things about the event on social media.

The fans it has selected for the PR play are called “Fan Leaders.” In exchange for their services, the World Cup’s organizers will cover their flight and hotel accommodations along with an invite to the final.

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Those fans will need to sign a code of conduct that suggests they not simply spread positive messages about the tournament, but formally report any offensive or disparaging content via screenshots. While the code of conduct says it does not want fans to be a “mouthpiece” for the World Cup, that appears to be the ask, complete with the request that they re-share certain types of social media posts about the tournament.

Cup organizers aren’t hiding it, either. The Qatari government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy confirmed the policy of inviting groups of supporters to the finals as part of a public relations quid pro quo.

“As the tournament nears, we have invited our most active fan leaders to personally nominate a small selection of fans to join us as our guests, as a manner of thanking them for their collaboration,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

On Qatar 2022’s official website, the Fan Leaders program is described as a group of 400 fans from 60 different countries who offer “insights, content creation, and message amplification.”

Organizers didn’t disclose how many fans it invited nor what it would spend on the apparent attempt at sport-washing. Make what you will of the whole thing. The 2022 FIFA World Cup begins on Nov. 20 and concludes on Dec. 18.

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