Shafeeq Saqafi paid $3 for the Argentina shirt he proudly wore when he sat with 15 000 different migrant employees in a hidden nook of Doha to observe Lionel Messi’s aspect salvage their World Cup.
Messi’s objective within the 2-0 win over Mexico late Saturday introduced the largest crowd seen on the Asian City stadium to their toes and Saqafi beat his chest in delight.
Saqafi and his mates bristle at European media recommendations that they’re “pretend followers” however readily acknowledge that they purchase counterfeit group shirts for $3 or much less, as an alternative of the $90 which official package prices.
“I couldn’t afford to have the letters printed on the again, however the shirt was one thing I actually needed,” mentioned the 32-year-old resort employee who earns simply over $400 a month and sends greater than half of that again to his household in Bangladesh.
Saqafi is without doubt one of the 2.5 million international employees who’ve been the muse of Qatar’s financial miracle — serving to pump oil and gasoline, constructing its World Cup stadiums and infrastructure and staffing the handfuls of recent resorts which have opened up to now 5 years.
Rights teams say the employees have been massively abused.
Qatar responds by citing the elevated security requirements and wage protections in factories and at outside work websites, and diminished working hours in Qatar’s notoriously sizzling summer time.
The stadium, within the Asian City procuring complicated on the outskirts of Doha, has develop into a day by day draw for hundreds of the poorest employees who stay in close by dormitories away from Doha’s glitzy procuring malls and eating places.
An Indian lady DJ revs up the overwhelmingly male and South Asian crowd earlier than every match with Hindi pop songs and Bollywood movies.
Many, like Saqafi, put on Argentina shirts. For many, the fan zone on the cricket pitch is the closest they’ll get to the World Cup. The authorized minimal wage is 1 000 riyals (round $260), which many nonetheless earn.
A couple of thousand 40-riyal ($10) World Cup tickets have been placed on sale and rapidly snapped up. These remaining are too costly for the typical building employee in Qatar.
Shopping for an official group shirt can be out of the query. So Saqafi and plenty of of his mates purchased one of many prime quality fakes on sale in backstreet shops.
Yaseen Gul, who has labored for a Doha electrical agency for a decade, mentioned he involves the stadium “to take pleasure in myself — cheaply.”
“Qatar could be very exhausting. The work is tough. In summer time it is vitally sizzling,” he mentioned. “However my wage has improved and I can’t go house.”
Shaqeel Mahmoud mentioned he couldn’t afford to purchase match tickets and he needed to depart the Argentina sport earlier than the tip as a result of he needed to go work.
A cup of sizzling milky tea on the stadium beverage stand prices $1, however many employees mentioned this was an excessive amount of and there have been no queues. Lots of line up on the FIFA Fan Pageant 10 kilometres (six miles) away to pay $13.50 for a beer.
“There isn’t any stress to purchase something so I’m grateful for that,”
© Agence France-Presse