Emotional foreigners bid tearful farewell to Qatar World Cup, says fan leader

Fifa World Cup helped people become friends for life and take home some amazing memories, says Ali

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

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Fan leader Ali (left), a Qatari national who is so proud of his country, with his friend. Photo: Rituraj Borkakoty
Fan leader Ali (left), a Qatari national who is so proud of his country, with his friend. Photo: Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 18 Dec 2022, 5:49 PM

Ali was sharing a light moment with his friends outside the Al Bayt Stadium, even asking a group of fans to accept a push-up challenge from an Argentinian supporter.

The Argentinian fan spoke no English, but it mattered little to anybody.


Football was their common language as Ali hugged the Argentinian fan after he beat his Qatari friend in the push-up challenge without breaking a sweat.

A Qatari national, Ali was among the fan leaders for the World Cup in his home country and he enjoyed meeting people from different countries and different cultures.


“To be honest, it feels so nice. It makes me proud of what Qatar has done for the World Cup,” the young Qatari national told this reporter.

But Ali says everyone, not just the Qatari nationals, all the expats in the country deserve credit for the success of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, the first in the middle east region.

“Yes, I am Qatari and I am proud of my country. But the nice thing is that so many people have worked at this World Cup, not just the Qatari people, the people from around the world, the people from different countries, worked very hard to make this World Cup amazing,” he said.

“There has been a lot of nice feedback, since I am one of the Qatari fan leaders, I met a lot of people from around the world, the fan leaders from around the world.

“Recently, we had a meeting with them. They said they were very happy in Qatar, they were feeling a part of this amazing World Cup. I am so proud, so happy to see people from around the world are happy in our country.”

Many of the fan leaders from abroad, according to Ali, admitted that they had been influenced by the western media before they arrived in Qatar for the World Cup.

“Most of the people we met, they said they had a different idea about Qatar before they came here. They said they all read negative reports about Qatar before coming to the World Cup. But they had a completely different experience after they arrived here for the World Cup,” he said.

“Some of the people we met, we have become friends now for life. They were crying when they were leaving this country. It was so emotional and so amazing. We saw the love they felt for this country and our people.”

Ali then revealed what he needed to do as a fan leader during the tournament.

“The Qatar Supreme Committee had a project called the fan leaders. They had different fan leaders from around the world. The job for the fan leaders was not only for football, it was also to meet people from different cultures, share information about different countries,” he said.

“So we met a lot of people from around the world, we met a lot of fans and people who have a big presence on social media.”

The foreign fans also loved the compactness of the tournament in Qatar where they could watch two World Cup matches in a day.

“In the group matches, there were four matches a day, and many fans were able to watch two matches a day because it was all played in one place,” Ali said.

“Everything was well-organised. I don’t know what it will be like after the World Cup. It will be so boring.”

The Qatar World Cup, with so many stunning results, including Morocco’s dream run to the semifinal, will go down as one of the most fascinating events in sports history.

“There is a lot of history that was made in this World Cup. Morocco had an amazing run. Even Tunisia beat France and Saudi Arabia beat Argentina. Other Asian countries like Japan and South Korea won some amazing matches,” Ali said.

“So a lot of nice things happened in this World Cup. Things like these never happened in a World Cup before. But it all happened in this World Cup. So people will have some amazing memories from this World Cup.”


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