England band ‘somehow even worse’ as members ‘paid to spy at Qatar World Cup’
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Whether you love them or hate them, it'll be hard not to grimace when the England band starts up in Qatar later this month.
A bombshell new report claims the World Cup hosts have paid as many as 40 Three Lions supporters to 'spy' on their countrymen during the tournament and wax lyrical about how great Qatar is.
It says they have also been told to sing certain songs when required and report any negative social media posts about the gulf state. In return, it is believed these fans will be handed free flights and accommodation, as well as £60-a-day pocket money.
READ MORE: Heathrow to be hit with strikes affecting World Cup flights right before England game
According to The Times, four members of England's iconic brass band have agreed to the espionage, including leader and chief trumpeter John Hemmingham.
Reacting to the news on social media, one fan joked "The England band have somehow become even worse," while a second quipped: "I’m hoping the contract obliges the England band to play silently as a mark of respect to all of humanity." A third remarked: "I didn't think I could loathe the England band more than I already did."
The FA have denied any involvement in the scheme, while Hemmingham insists he was approached for it after he spent £10,000 on hotels and says he accepted the freebie flight in order to make it out for the tournament curtain-raiser between Qatar and Ecuador.
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"The fans are under no obligation to do anything at all as part of being involved," Hemmingham told The Telegraph. "No spying, no biased interviews, no appearances, nothing. Nobody is being forced to do anything or report on anything."
According to the Times, everyone who has signed up for the scheme is guaranteed a ticket to the opening ceremony but must stay in the country for at least two weeks. They will be sat in groups and told to sing at appropriate times for the TV cameras.
A leaked document sent to fan leaders reads: "In celebration of the fans around the world, over the period of five minutes, fan chants from each nation will be played and you will be expected to stand up, sing the song/chant, wave your flags and represent your country.
"The camera will focus on each national fan group in turn. We will share with you the chant/song selected from your country to ensure you are familiar with it."
In bold letters, the document adds: "Be ready in your shirt, flags, and scarves to cheer and shout."
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