Dutchman Davy Klaassen: ‘FIFA forced us not to wear’ the rainbow armband

Dutchman Davy Klaassen: ‘FIFA forced us not to wear’ the rainbow armband

The arrival of Neymar and the Seleção hailed by their fans, Brazilians or not

The arrival of Neymar and the Brazilian football team was welcomed Saturday in Doha by hundreds of Brazilian supporters but also Indians, Bangladeshis or from the Emirates. The Brazilian supporters seemed rather a minority in the middle of the crowd of fans of all origins dressed in the yellow jersey of the Seleção, one of the favorite teams of this World Cup which begins on Sunday. Everyone was overcome by emotion when the bus carrying the Brazilian players arrived late in the Qatari night, in front of the luxurious hotel where the Brazilian players will be staying during the competition, before their first match Thursday against Serbia.

“Why do non-Brazilians support the Brazil team? Because it’s the best in the world, of course!” enthuses Kelly Dias, manager of a Brazilian cosmetics company, who made the trip to Doha from Madrid where she lives. “The majority of people who were not born in Brazil support us, we see it in the streets. Brazil is the favourite,” assures this 39-year-old woman.

The group of supporters, the “torcida”, stayed more than three hours near the Westin hotel in Doha to see their idol behind the windows of the bus: Neymar. “I want to see Neymar, that’s why I came,” said Lijo Mathew, a 24-year-old Indian administrative employee who has lived in Qatar for seven years. Some media have denounced these “fake” supporters, paid to support Brazil, Argentina or England, to the chagrin of the authorities who denied this information described as “disappointing and surprising”.

In Kerala there are many Brazil fans

Haneef, who runs a public relations firm in Doha, also didn’t like the claims. He pulls out his phone to show images of Brazil supporters he says he took in Bekal Fort, his hometown in India’s Kerala state. “It is false, it is a false message. In Kerala, there are a lot of Brazil fans, who like Neymar, Brazil because you know, India is not very good at football,” he explains. Like him, who has taken up the cause of Brazil since his victory in 2002, many believe that the “Canarinha” will win the cup this year, for the sixth time in its history.

“Since the 1998 World Cup in France, I have supported Brazil. I am a real fanatic of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Kaka,” says Badrudeen, who says he has worked in Qatar for four years. “It will be our sixth world title,” says this Indian, born 34 years ago in Kerala, wearing the “Seleção” T-shirt. The presence of all these supporters from Asia and the Middle East hardly surprises Erick Miranda, a 14-year-old Brazilian schoolboy, living in Qatar with his family. Quite the contrary. “The atmosphere is great, with lots of people supporting our country to bring home the trophy for the sixth time. We are the best in the world,” he said.