The first FIFA Fans' Cup kicked off Tuesday at the FIFA Fans Festival, featuring 32 teams representing each of the nations competing in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and underlining the key role of football fans in the success of the prestigious tournament.
The special event, organised for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, was attended by Legacy Ambassadors Marcos Evangelista de Morais (Cafu), Samuel Eto’o, Ronald de Boer, and Xavi Hernandez, as well as Supreme Committee and Delivery’s (SC) Communications and Media executive director Fatma al-Nuaimi, and football fans.
“I think it (Fans' Cup) is amazing. In the end, we play for the fans, we play for spectators, they are one of the most important parts of football so this tournament is so important and I hope they will enjoy it. All the best especially for Spain. It is a very good initiative, I am happy to be here and I am honnoured also,” Hernandez said.
According to SC, the four-day five-a-side competition, which will conclude on December 2, is played in the same format as the FIFA World Cup with group and knockout stages until a team bags the championship.
Like the World Cup schedule, the Fans' Cup opening matches Tuesday saw the Qatar team competing with Ecuador and Iran against England, held at the two pitches at Al Bidda Park.
“The fans are the heart and soul of every game and we want to organise a tournament that is similar with the schedule as the World Cup where we have 32 competing teams from the competing nations,” said al-Nuaimi, adding that the winning team will take home $20,000.
A number of participants like Faisal from the Netherlands team lauded the initiative, saying it provides an opportunity for fans to enjoy and have “some nice time with each other and getting more involved in football".
“I am happy to play in this tournament and like what Xavi has said, it is not only about the players but also about the fans,” he said, expressing optimism that his team will win the tournament.
“I have seen other teams and I expect the level would be high but we will see, we will enjoy the game, enjoying the game is the most important thing,” Faisal stressed.
Alex from Ghana shared the same view saying “I am happy and excited about the Fans Cup, it is the first time in World Cup history and I am so proud of FIFA and Qatar Football Association for organising this tournament".
South Korean national Tuni Hao said he is enjoying the World Cup and felt honoured to be one of the Fans' Cup players representing his country. He hopes his team will be the champion of the tournament.
Marcos Evangelista de Morais (Cafu), along with other Legacy Ambassadors Ronald de Boer Samuel Eto’o, and Xavi Hernandez, raised the Fans' Cup trophy during the opening ceremony of the tournament Tuesday at the FIFA Fans Cup 2022. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Cafu with fans during the tournament's opening ceremony Tuesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Alex says he is excited to play at the FIFA Fans Cup 2022 in Qatar. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Football fans from 32 teams take part in the tournament. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Faisal from the Netherlands is taking part in the FIFA Fans Cup. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
The opening match included England vs Iran. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Tuni Hao from South Korea at the FFF football pitch Tuesday. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatar competes with Ecuador in the opening match. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.