Aussie TikTok star Jon-Bernard Kairouz has come under fire after questioning the authenticity of certain fans watching the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The comedian uploaded a video from outside one of Qatar’s stadiums on Sunday featuring interviews with a number of fans wearing Brazil jerseys.
Kairouz asks the same questions of the handful of fans, with their responses cut together to paint the picture that they were all paid to be there by the Qatari government.
“Did FIFA pay you to be here,” Kairouz asks one set of fans.
They each reply affirmatively, with one even declaring he is actually an Argentina fan but was paid to support Brazil.
The fans, who were all of Bangladeshi or Indian origin, also all responded that 30-year-old Brazilian superstar Neymar was their favourite player.
However they were each unable to name a single other player from Brazil.
“I’m not a fan of football, I’m a cricket fan,” one fan says to Kairouz after being stumped by the question.
Kairouz’s stunt came after damaging reports emerged that supporters from around the globe had been paid to attend the tournament in order to improve the image of the Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup.
The Fan Leader Network offered travel, accommodation and a seat at the tournament’s opening ceremony and only asked fans to behave enthusiastically and post positive social media content online to generate a buzz.
While Kairouz had undoubtedly spotted a number of paid supporters in Qatar, many of his followers criticised his video and its editing.
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Many viewers also argued that many fans at the World Cup were overseas construction workers and therefore had been paid by Qatar to be there but not necessarily as fans.
“These guys worked on the construction of the stadiums and were given tickets,” one viewer wrote.
“So sad that once you come from another country not in world cup and support a country in world cup…you are FAKE FAN,” wrote another.
“Why you calling them ‘fake fans ‘ it doesn’t matter where they’re from if they support Brazil they support Brazil who are you to call them ‘fake,’”wrote a third.
Kairouz’s video was published after it emerged payments to Qatar’s fake fans had been stopped by authorities following a stream of bad publicity.
Members recruited by the Fan Leader Network have revealed payments were cancelled in recent days, with authorities blaming the media for exposing the questionable ploy.
“Due to the recent developments in the media, we are keen to protect our visiting fans from the erroneous misinformed statements regarding ‘fans receiving payment for the trip’,” the message, first reported by The Guardian, read.
“Accordingly, the daily allowance will unfortunately no longer be issued. The allowance was intended as a small uplift on your own personal funds to assist with refreshments during your stay.”
Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, criticised the scheme after news broke of supporters’ payments being cut.
“Who would have thought that an authoritarian regime with an appalling workers’ rights record was not to be trusted?” he said.
“I suppose that’s what you get for accepting to be paid the equivalent of a Qatari monthly minimum wage every four days for the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing.”
But FIFA president Gianni Infantino hit back at allegations of fake fans at the World Cup, labelling the criticism “pure racism”.
“I am reading that these people don’t look English so they can’t cheer for England, they look like Indians,” he said.
“What is that? Can someone who looks Indian not cheer for England, Spain or Germany?
“You know what it is? This is racism, pure racism. Everyone in the world has the right to cheer for who they want.”
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