Financial TimesFinancial Times

‘Fake fans’ are the future of international football

By Josh Noble

30 Nov 2022 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

The alleged 'fake fans' of Qatar's World Cup opening offer insights into the modern game, says this FT columnist, in which global brand identity is beating out traditional tribal nationalism.

On the eve of the Qatar World Cup, a video of about 20 men of south Asian origin dressed in England shirts went viral. The group were stumbling through “Three Lions”, the country’s unofficial football anthem, and bouncing up and down brandishing their England flags.

The footage attracted suspicion, with some labelling the group “fake fans”, perhaps hired by the tournament’s organisers to counter fears of a feeble atmosphere. After all, Qatar has sponsored supporters from all over the world to attend the event, as a thank you for their “engagement” in the run-up to the World Cup.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content