The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 20 and will be played through Dec. 18.
Qatar has sought to portray itself as welcoming to foreigners but the country’s judicial system, which is based on an interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, has drawn Western criticism for its tendency to favor prosecutors and police. Fans attending the World Cup were advised to be mindful of Qatar’s laws and cultural customs, including policies for alcohol, drugs, sexuality and dress code.
Since the tournament began, several videos have gone viral – some with millions of views – that claim to highlight some of these religious and cultural differences. VERIFY fact-checked whether these videos are from the current World Cup event, like posts claim.
A video with hundreds of thousands of views shows four men on stage, purportedly being converted to Islam during the World Cup. One tweet said: “They come to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. After listening to the call of Allah, they converted to Islam. Allahu Akhbar!”
No, the video was not taken during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It was taken in May 2016 in Qatar.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using InVid, a video forensics tool, VERIFY analyzed the keyframes of the video and conducted a reverse image search of the frames. We can confirm that Dr. Zakir Naik was in the video and it was taken in Doha, Qatar, but not in 2022.
The same video was posted to Twitter on May 27, 2016.
Another video from the same event was posted to YouTube in May 2016. The same people can be seen on the stage, and the stage lighting and setup match the recently posted viral videos and the 2016 video.
According to a post on Naik’s Facebook page from around the time the video was originally published, he was giving lectures in Doha on May 26, 2016 as part of a tour called “Does God Exist?” Other YouTube videos, also posted in May 2016, from the tour show the same stage – see here and here.
Naik is an Indian televangelist, and according to the Times of India, is a fugitive from India wanted for allegedly laundering money and spreading hate speech. He was invited by the government of Qatar to give religious lectures during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, despite being a fugitive.
Videos that have received hundreds of thousands of views show children and men in traditional Arab attire reciting the Quran. Some posts that included the video had the same text that said: “What a beautiful inaugural, FIFA World Cup opening with Quran recitation. Every country shows their culture & traditions in such big events, Qatar chose to represent Islam.”
The video was not taken during the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup. It was taken in October 2021.
WHAT WE FOUND
VERIFY also used InVid to determine whether this video was taken during the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening ceremonies.
Using the same techniques described previously, we can confirm this video was taken during a ceremony honoring the completion of a World Cup stadium in October 2021, not during the 2022 opening ceremonies.
The viral video was lifted from a video posted by Doha News, a news website run out of Qatar. The full video was posted on Twitter on Oct. 24, 2021, and shows the inauguration of the World Cup Al Thumama stadium.
The video clip shows a man leading children in reciting verses on mercy from the Quran, which is the religious text of Islam, the tweet from Doha News said.
The same scene from the viral clip can be seen in the Doha News video, starting at the 23-second mark.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony was held on Nov. 20, 2022 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. VERIFY used Google Maps to further confirm the interior of the stadium seen in the viral video shows the Al Thumama stadium.
Editor’s note: The video referenced in this section contains nudity. The links in this report are archived screenshots and do not include links to the original video for that reason.
A video with more than 18 million views claims to show a woman lifting her shirt upon arrival to the World Cup in Qatar. One tweet that included the video said, “England fans have arrived in Qatar.” Another tweet, originally written in Spanish, said the video showed “images of the first woman imprisoned in Qatar,” presumably because she acted illegally by exposing herself.
Does this video show a woman exposing herself upon arrival to the World Cup?
No, the video was not taken during the 2022 World Cup. The video has been circulating online since at least July 2021.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using InVid, VERIFY was able to trace this video to at least July 2021 when it was posted to multiple websites. The first instance VERIFY could find was on July 15, 2021, when it was posted to meme website 9gag.
“At least this coming home,” the post said, appearing to reference the “it’s coming home” chant that is often used during England’s soccer matches. On July 11, 2021, Italy beat England in the UEFA Euro 2020 final.
Both men and women visiting Qatar for the World Cup have been advised to closely follow dress codes in order to avoid being barred entry, or even arrested.
According to the United Kingdom guide for fans visiting Doha:
“You should dress modestly when in public, including while driving. Women must cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Both men and women are advised not to wear shorts or sleeveless tops, when going to government buildings, health care facilities or malls. If you do not dress modestly, you may be asked to leave or be denied entry to these locations.”
Nudity is also not allowed in Qatar, not even in changing rooms, according to blog and travel posts on the topic. In 2013, a museum in Qatar reportedly covered Greek statues that were on display to hide any evidence of nudity.
But so far there is no evidence or reports that confirm anyone has been arrested for exposure, as some tweets containing the viral video suggest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.