The fans screamed for Qatar. Their passion hid a secret.

Author: Yuvi November 28, 2022

 The fans screamed for Qatar.  Their passion hid a secret.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers did not respond to questions about the supporters, or the efforts to identify them and bring them to the tournament. A man wearing a polo shirt with the logo of Aspire Academy, Qatar’s billion-dollar talent farming project, filmed the crowd for the full 90 minutes.

Yet the passion felt real. The disappointment did, too, as Senegal scored twice. Up the grandstand, every few rows, fan leaders in white T-shirts shouted and urged the faithful to sing harder, mimicking a phenomenon often seen in ultra crowds in Italy, Germany and Morocco: You sing louder and make more noise when you are losing . The drums beat louder. The chants returned.

The whole crowd, not only those behind the goal, finally sprang to life when Mohammed Muntari scored Qatar’s first goal in a World Cup match. But not everyone got the memo: Amid the pulsating celebrations, a security guard rushed to the front in a failed attempt to ask the ultras to sit down. But the joy was short-lived when Senegal scored a third goal. The game ended, 3-1. A few hours later, Qatar became the first nation to be eliminated from this World Cup.

“I’m unhappy, of course,” said Ahmed, an Egyptian. He had joined the group at the game, and wore the same distinctive maroon T-shirt, but he said he actually lives in Qatar.

“We are a group of Arab people working here to support Qatar,” he said, adding, “If we were working in England, we’d support England, too.”

The crowd melted away. The Qatari ultras were only ever here for the group stage. Most of them will pack up and fly home to Lebanon after Qatar’s final game against the Netherlands on Tuesday. But before they go, they will bring their noise once more, with feeling.

“The next game,” Ahmed said, “I am sure we will win.”

James Montague is the author of “1312,” an account of ultras culture around the world.

Randa Saidi contributed reporting.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

28 November, 2022, 10:30 pm

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Monday, 28th November 2022

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