“We aren’t given any work, we are just used to fill up the stadiums”
They come and pick us up about twice a week. Each time, private buses take us to the stadium - the same kind of buses that take migrant workers to construction sites. It’s extremely rare for Qataris to interact with us directly, so generally Nigerian or Cameroonian intermediaries come get us instead. These men are in the same situation as us – they are unemployed and so agree to do this in exchange for payment. Drivers take us to the stadium. There, they sometimes give us hats and chasubles featuring the team colours. This happened with the al-Alhi club, for instance.Photo taken by our Observer on March 8. The buses come pick up the migrants to bring them to the stadium.The last match I watched pitted al-Alhi against Leqwiya, two teams from League 1. That was on March 8 at the Al-Arabi stadium in Doha. We arrived at around 6 pm, watched the match, and then were driven home. The intermediary then paid us during the return trip. Each time, we make between 25 and 30 Qatari Riyals [about 5 to 6 euros]. There are rumours floating around saying that the intermediary is supposed to actually pay us 100 riyals, but it’s hard to know for sure.The intermediaries made it understood that the clubs were behind this strategy. In the past, some directors have come to thank us at the end of a match and have encouraged us to return. We speak a mix of English and Arabic. They call us “the Cameroonians”. But it’s hard to be sure that they’re the ones giving the orders to pay us.Photo taken by our Observer on March 8.Since African immigrants have a harder time finding work here, we outnumber anyone else in the stadium. But on vacation days, we see a lot of Southeast Asian workers [from Nepal, Bangladesh, etc.], and they get paid, too.
This is my only “revenue” for the time being. And I find this humiliating. Nobody gives us work, bosses explain that they prefer to work with Asians, and so we’re used as warm bodies to fill up stadiums. If it weren’t for us, there’d be nobody there. There are migrant workers on one side, and the official gallery with the club owners on the other. They are using us, the most miserable people in the country, to sell a glamorous image of Qatari football. There have been times when there were up to 3,000 migrant workers in a stadium.In front of the stadium.