Inside Qatar’s ‘different’ fan zone: a night watching football with Qatar’s migrant workers | World Cup 2022

It has the large display screen, the pumping music and the Fifa branding, however that is a fan zone with a distinction. There are not any visiting supporters, no ladies, no staff colours and positively no beer. The clue is within the venue: a cricket stadium on the sting of Doha. Inside, 1000’s of principally south Asian low-wage laborers, fill the stands or sit cross-legged on the grassy outfield.

It is a world away from the polished face of Doha that almost all followers will see. The stadium fan zone is inside Asian Town, a procuring and leisure advanced purpose-built for Qatar’s migrant workers about half-hour by automotive from the town middle. An enormous expanse of warehouses, workshops and lodging blocks stretches out for miles on one facet, housing lots of of 1000’s of workers, usually in grim, crowded dorms.

On a wall close to the doorway to the fan zone, a banner in Arabic, English and Hindi reads: “Thanks to your contributions for delivering one of the best Fifa World Cup ever.”

The entrance to the fan zone for migrant workers in Doha, Qatar. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

Many right here in all probability performed a half in constructing the stadiums and infrastructure for the event, however gratitude has its limits. While some match tickets went on sale for Qatar residents for simply 40 rials (£9), nobody the Guardian spoke to had managed to get one. Any that have been accessible have been far too costly for workers who earn as little as £225 a month.

Without a match ticket, they’re unable to register for a Hayya card, which is required to enter the primary fan zones in Doha. Even if they might, the environment friendly and low cost Metro doesn’t attain this a part of the town, forcing workers to take costlier alternate options.

The fan zone, and Asian Town itself, spotlight the parallel lives that many migrant workers inhabit. Critics say it entrenches divisions, the unstated message being: you possibly can have your eating places, retailers and fan zone, so long as you do not come to ours.

In the migrant worker fan zone in Doha, Qatar, people watch the Spain v Costa Rica match at night on a big screen.
People watch the Spain v Costa Rica match within the migrant employee fan zone. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

As the match between Spain and Costa Rica kicks off, Dilip Kumar Mandal from Nepal appears to be like thrilled. “I come each night. I just like the atmosphere,” he says. Asked which staff he’s supporting, he pauses and says, “The pink one.”

“I’d wish to be in a stadium, however I’ve no cash. Whatever I earn, I’ve to ship house for my kids’s schooling,” he provides.

Mandal, a mason, is simply joyful to be there. Before the World Cup started, 350 of his workmates have been ordered house, as his firm, like many others, wound down its work on directions from the federal government.

As Spain scores their first objective, he punches the air. “Yes! I knew they’d rating,” he says, his face glowing pink within the gentle of the large display screen.

Sitting close by, Stephen* from Ghana works on the airport, transferring inflight meals to the planes. It’s his time without work, however in the course of the week, “All I do is figure, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep,” he says. Like Dilip, he couldn’t afford a match ticket, however in contrast to him, he speaks about football as fluently because the Spanish play it. As one other objective slides in, he enthuses about Ghana’s probabilities: “I simply hope I can get off work to observe them,” he says.

As half-time approaches, lots of surge in direction of the stage, and are quickly rewarded, not by one other objective, however by an MC and her 4 feminine dancers. She provides a shoutout to, “My African buddies”, earlier than reeling off the opposite nations that make up the majority of Qatar’s migrant workforce: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Close up images of visitors to the migrant workers fan zone on the edge of Doha, Qatar, during an evening World Cup match.
Some workers are joyful to be in Qatar for the World Cup having seen workmates despatched house pre-tournament as corporations wound down their operations. Photograph: Pete Pattisson

There are not any staff colours or flags on show. With the exception of Ghana, none of those nations certified for the World Cup and so choices about who to help look like decided by a favourite participant or the colour of a shirt.

In the stands, Mohammed Malik from Bangladesh says he comes to observe the matches day-after-day. He has nothing higher to do. “My firm stopped sending us to work as a result of we won’t entry our office in the course of the World Cup. They’ve stopped paying us too,” says the 42-year-old carpenter.

Yam Kumar Rajbanshi, a forklift operator, is one other common within the fan zone. “I come each night. I like football greater than cricket. Brazil will win,” he says confidently. Rajbanshi, from Nepal, stated a ticket for a match prices an excessive amount of – half his month-to-month wage – however he didn’t appear to care. “It’s higher to observe right here!”

Migrant workers watch Qatar v Ecuador on a big screen from the cricket ground fan zone on the edge of Doha.
Migrant workers watch Qatar v Ecuador from the cricket floor fan zone on the sting of Doha. Photograph: Marko Đurica/Reuters

As Spain strolled to a 7-0 win, the workers who helped make it potential, saunter again to their dorms, a band of south Indian drummers sending them on their manner.

* identify modified to guard the person’s id

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