Van der Wilk has an early evening beer in the newly opened fan zone. At your expense, yes. Today brought the newspaper The Guardian announced that the per diem has been waived for fans whose travel and accommodation is covered by Qatar. The reason, according to the British newspaper, was the “bad news” Qatar received when it emerged that fans were being paid.
“Known for a week”
The message came as no surprise to Van der Wilk. “We were already aware of this earlier this week. We don’t think it’s a disaster. And none of the Dutch people canceled their trip for this.”
Yet it is striking. Qatar also adjusted its drinking policy in stadiums during the World Cup this week. Previously, beer could be served in and around stadiums, but this was reversed a few days before the start of the tournament. The compensation system for guest fans is also being adjusted.
Van der Wilk had a lot on him when he came out via the NOS that he (and 49 other people chosen by him and another ‘fan leader’) had been allowed to come to Qatar, but they had messages positive about the tournament there. post on social media. In total, hundreds of fans from other World Cup countries were also invited to the so-called “Fan Engagement Programme”.
“If I leave tomorrow, I will”
According to Van der Wilk, many untruths were introduced into the world. Nowhere does it say that he should speak positively about the tournament and the country, he said. And he really doesn’t have to report it if someone says something wrong, what was said. He also doesn’t have to stay until December 4, which would be in the contract. “If I leave tomorrow, I’ll do just that.” But that won’t happen. He saw Qatar’s invitation as a great opportunity to compete in the World Cup again.
Choosing the other 49 Dutchmen was not easy. It was mostly a lot of arrangements in a short time. His childhood friend, standing next to him in the fan zone, was the first he pointed to. He also says he consciously chose people who have been following Orange for years and would miss “Qatar” because they couldn’t afford it. “It’s outrageously expensive. Now that they’re here, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“I’m not going to lie”
Dutch promotional fans arrived in Qatar yesterday. According to Van der Wilk, they were well received at a “good” hotel just outside Qatar. All invited fans sleep here, including those from other countries. “I think it’s fantastic, so many enthusiastic people from all over the world coming together.” The group of Dutch people is diverse, but there are no people from the LGBTI community. Not consciously, says Van der Wilk, because it could have been done.
He has no problem with his conscience now that he is here. “I’m not going to lie about why I went there. It’s because I’m always Orange at these tournaments. I’m here for the football,” he says. “And I spoke to so many people from Qatar, who are all so happy that we are here.” It is not migrant workers or LGBTI people who are being mistreated, he admits. “But we can’t talk to them.”
Conditions for migrant workers
RTL News spoke to migrant workers, a few months before the World Cup. We saw what their shelter was like and what part of their life there was and still is like. You can see our findings in the video below:
Making a statement is a bit of a stretch for him, but Van der Wilk certainly doesn’t deny that there have been deaths and that these people’s position is wrong. “Yes, yes… they really need to do something about it. But of course that applies to a lot of other countries. There are also sports competitions in Saudi Arabia. Is there a big difference with Qatar?”
“I don’t have many principles”
He agrees that this should not be a reason to ignore the problems in Qatar. “But what can we do about it? I have no principles. So they shouldn’t have given the tournament to Qatar 15 years ago. You’re too late for that now.”
Van der Wilk hasn’t done anything on social media for the past two weeks and hasn’t spoken to the media. Now it is posted again. “And the reactions are almost all positive,” he laughs. “People say it’s good that I went.” Will it also bring back something critical if needed? “Well, at least I know I can do it and it won’t be a problem,” he says. Van der Wilk is looking forward to it. “Making unforgettable memories.”
Fanleader Van der Wilk and the other Dutch fans will be there at least until December 4. If they want to stay even longer at Qatar’s expense, the country warmly invites them.