‘Cash for cheerleaders is fake news, we’re die-hard fans’: Indian expats welcome England squad in Qatar

Far from the thousands of English fans who welcomed them at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil or the 2018 tournament in Russia, England’s footballers were greeted by hundreds of Indian expats serenading them with “It’s coming home” as they arrived at their hotel in Qatar on Tuesday.

The England team, staying at a five-star Souq Al Wakra hotel in Doha, were in for a surprise as fans banged drums, blew trumpets and even crashed through a police barrier to get a better view.

There were loud cheers for the captain, Harry Kane, but bigger ones were reserved for Gareth Southgate, especially when the manager turned to wave, reports the Guardian..

There were also familiar chants of “England! England!” as well as the rather unusual “Southgate is our super coach! Sterling is our super star! Pickford is our super keeper”.

There have been suggestions on social media that some locals are being paid by the Qataris to add a dash of spice, fans, told the Guardian that it was nothing of that sort. They insisted they made their own jerseys, bought their own tickets to the games.

Sajidh, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer, told the website, that suggestions he and others were receiving cash to be cheerleaders was “fake news”. He said:“None of us is getting paid. We are diehard England fans.

“My favourite player was Beckham but now it is (Bukayo) Saka. If someone offered to pay us to support England we would turn them down. We are genuine supporters. Many of us grew up watching Beckham and Michael Owen. Our love is for this team.”

England skipper Kane insisted everyone was match fit and ready for the first game against Iran on Monday. “It’s going to be massive,” he said.

“I remember when we were out in Russia in our own little bubble. We saw all the videos from back home going crazy – it makes a big difference, it motivates us to be successful.

“We want to make the fans proud and happy. Of course, there will be some in the stadiums – we always have great support – but most will be at home and we just want to make them proud.”

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