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Super Fans from four countries come together in Qatar to follow their passion

#Football

Michael Zeman has been playing football since he was a 3-year-old, when he aspired to be like legendary Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller. The enthusiasm for football he has shown has not changed one bit since then, and for the past few days he has had almost more ‘selfie’ requests than a football star. This week, Michael was one of five fans invited to Doha by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in conjunction with Qatar Tourism Authority to get a taste for the experience that fans visiting in 2022 can expect.

“In the 1970’s I saw Gerd Mueller playing as a child, and since then I’ve been a Bayern fan. It was a fairytale which came true to be here in Doha,” Zeman told www.sc.qa. “The stadium infrastructure is fantastic, the weather was nice and the people are really friendly and we were always asked for photos. So it’s really nice, it’s been a fantastic journey. I can say to the world; come back in six years for Qatar 2022. The new stadiums and the underground stations, as well as the way they plan to use solar energy really impressed me the most in Doha.” 

Wherever Zeman and his fellow Bayern Munich fan Thorsten Gerlach went, whether it was Msheireb Museums, Aspire Zone, Souq Waqif or a shopping mall, they were greeted by hundreds of residents who wanted to get their photos taken with the colourful German fans. Zeman was always there with a smile and a friendly shake of the hand, and said that the warmth of their reception in Qatar had been astonishing. 

“The only difference to Europe is that Arabic people come and give you a hug and hold your arm. European people don’t know how to do this, so it’s a nice way of doing things here. My message to other fans is come here and enjoy this experience. I don’t know how many photo requests I got, many hundreds, and it is really nice because small kids come and look at us with big eyes. I am a normal guy,” he said. 

Fellow Bayern Munich fan Thorsten was equally surprised by the welcome that the German fans received in Doha. 

“I was really speechless when I found out about this opportunity to visit Qatar,” said Thorsten, who travels to many Bayern Munich matches every year but had never been to Doha. “The friendliness of how we were received, the amount of photos we were able to take with Qataris, it is simply outstanding and I travel back home with a great amount of positive impressions. Until 2022, they will develop further and I think it will be a very good tournament. If this is repeated during the World Cup it will be a fantastic atmosphere, plus there are short distances to the stadiums, and the fan fests will be great.” 

Yi Zhang, another fan who came from China, posted his experiences from the three day visit on Chinese social media, reaching over 1.3 million views.  

“In 1999, I was learning German and I saw the final they lost against Manchester, and I was really touched and wanted to learn more about this club. It was a great and surprising experience in Qatar for me. To be at Bayern training is fantastic, and then to see so many museums, and what is the latest on stadium construction. We also visited Aspire Academy and had many great experiences. Even though there are still six years until the World Cup, Chinese fans should try to come here and witness what I have seen over the past three days.”  

Another fan, Muath bin saad bin askar Al Askar, came from Saudi Arabia to witness the Bayern Munich training sessions first-hand and have a specially arranged autograph session with the team. He said: “Bayern Munich are hugely popular in Saudi Arabia. Being here to see all these stars up-close is a valuable opportunity for me. This is nothing new for Qatar, which organises major sport events annually. As football fans in the Gulf region and throughout the Middle East, we’re eagerly awaiting the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar." 

The fifth fan came from India. Vijay Bharadwaj said a dream had come true in his visit to Qatar: “In India, football is not the most popular sport but I have been supporting Bayern Munich since Lahm’s goal for Germany in 2006. It was a dream come true to watch my favourite stars up close and personal. History is being embraced here despite all of the modernization going on. It is an affordable place to visit and there will be a large amount of fans from India coming here. This is the closest we have ever been to the World Cup. It is a very friendly environment, people should check out the sports infrastructure and the museums.” 

The five fans also had the chance to witness the AFC U23 tournament kicking off and saw Qatar beat China 3-1 at Lekhwiya Stadium. After many more photo requests from fans, the German duo ended their stay in Doha with a live TV appearance, claiming they will be sure to come back in 2022.