DOHA, Qatar – England fans have been among the most visible supporters at any World Cup, and Qatar is no different.
Despite concerns about the world’s biggest tournament in a conservative Muslim country where public drunkenness is illegal, homosexuality is an offense punishable by prison terms, and women’s rights are severely limited, die-hard England fans remain appearing in crowds to cheer on their stardom. squad. English supporters who spoke to this reporter felt that seeing England as World Cup champions was worth the travel and inconvenience.
“We’re going to win the World Cup,” said multiple England fans. The supporters were in negotiations about the first ever World Cup in the Middle East, especially as they had to deal with the restrictions on a traditional festival.
Take where and how to “have a pint,” for example. The Red Lion Doha, located inside a hotel with live music, the reliable crowds, and the aesthetic of the English pubs as your favorite quickly. State-licensed hotel bars tend to have expensive menus and long lines or require reservations.
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As for the conditions in Qatar, fans such as Matt, who preferred to provide only his first name, but noted that he is from Nottingham, reflected on what was unique about Qatar, in its sixth World Cup.
“So there’s no shortage of crops, but they’re not plentiful either,” Matt said. “It’s weird walking into restaurants and not being able to order an alcoholic drink — not that it’s a big deal — it’s just something we’re used to being able to do back home.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been to the Middle East, so [it’s just about] we have to get used to clear cultural differences and make sure we respect Qatar’s rules and traditions.”
Another thing that made the experience unique was the size of the host country. This presented logistical issues to FIFA, as Qatar had to account for fans who arrived in larger quantities than the total number of Qatari citizens. It has also created an atmosphere like no other, since fans from all nations are participating in the city of Doha.
To make room for fans to attend, Qatar has come up with a wide range of accommodation options, including fan village cabins that have come under criticism, and accommodation on cruise ships. Another England fan, now attending his eighth World Cup, said staying on a cruise ship was expensive, but still great.
Rules were strict. Some visitors were confiscated to enter the stadiums. These ranged from lighter clothing to some pieces of the crusader costumes worn by fans dressed as English Knights, a tradition some supporters have had since before the tournament.
Still, the feeling among most of the Three Lions’ supporters is encouraging. Matt said, “[The mood is] very positive, about the country and our chances. I think we were all very surprised by Qatar.”
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England fans are no strangers to negative press. They face their own reputations — fair or not.
Other fans will definitely tell you that it is true, however. From table to table at the Red Lion, travelers supporting England, Wales, Australia, Croatia, Mexico and Brazil were present.
Aware that this piece was aimed at England fans, one woman jokingly instructed, “Make sure you write how rude they are.”
Wrapped up in the quips and cliches about England fans is an undeniable degree of respect. The team’s victory was consistently predicted by every English supporter. England have a great reputation for loyal support — a testament to a proud culture in a world-renowned sport.
There is certainly a lot of confidence in England’s chances this year. For a team loaded with marquee talent, one with momentum to reach the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, who lost in the final of the 2020 European Championship, and is one of the favorites to many bettors to win in Doha, it is a wish that is justified.
“I go to these tournaments with a lot of hope, but I have no expectations,” Matt said. “However, hope is what kills you … look no further than 2018 [World Cup] semi-final and final of the European Championship last year.”
The 6-2 thrashing of Iran in England’s opening game of this year’s World Cup was a thrilling way to launch their new campaign, and England fans here in Qatar are riding high. But before the highlights, England face the United States on Friday and then Wales on November 29.
The United States will be the underdog, with a talented but extremely young team facing their more talented counterparts on the other side. In the stands, USA fans who have also traveled to Doha will be in for a great cheering competition with some of the most vocal fans in the game.
England supporters are famous for their funny songs, which they sing brilliantly during the match. A particularly popular one in Doha, for this competition during the holiday season, is a rendition of Christmas classics:
“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to see England win!”
When it came to supporting American fans, English fans were quick to criticize them. “You need more songs,” one man elaborated, “you only sing USA!”
Regardless of many predictions touting England’s weak victory, England’s match against the United States in Qatar will be one for the history books. Despite the confidence expressed by England fans, there is a level of awareness that anything really could happen.
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