Singing street marshals are Qatar World Cup’s surprise stars

Nov 24, 2022, 11:21 AM | Updated: Nov 25, 2022, 1:24 am
Osama, 21 years-old, from Palestine works as a street marshal prior to the World Cup group G soccer...

Osama, 21 years-old, from Palestine works as a street marshal prior to the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 World Cup in France had Ricky Martin. In Qatar, the tune that nests itself in the head is the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East's first World Cup. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

              A street marshal gives indications to fans at a subway station prior to the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 World Cup in France had Ricky Martin. In Qatar, the tune that nests itself in the head is the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East's first World Cup. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
            
              A street marshal gives indications to fans at a subway station prior to the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 World Cup in France had Ricky Martin. In Qatar, the tune that nests itself in the head is the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East's first World Cup. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
            
              Street marshals work prior to the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. The 1998 World Cup in France had Ricky Martin. In Qatar, the tune that nests itself in the head is the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East's first World Cup. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
            
              Osama, 21 years-old, from Palestine works as a street marshal prior to the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 World Cup in France had Ricky Martin. In Qatar, the tune that nests itself in the head is the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East's first World Cup. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
            
              Osama, 21 years-old, from Palestine works as a street marshal prior to the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 World Cup in France had Ricky Martin. In Qatar, the tune that nests itself in the head is the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East's first World Cup. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 tournament in France had Ricky Martin.

For many fans, the unofficial soundtrack of the World Cup in Qatar is fast becoming the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals.

Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East’s first World Cup.

They point visitors flooding into this Arabian Peninsula nation in the right direction on their search for public transportation. It’s an important crowd control measure as some 1.2 million fans are expected to inundate Qatar, a country home to 3 million people.

The vast majority of the marshals come from Kenya and Ghana. They say they responded to job ads in August and September, ahead of the World Cup.

After a monotonous start, some marshals now sing or chant their instructions to fans. Bullhorns they carry blast out the recorded message again, and again, and again.

The instructions spark laughter among fans who often join in with the chants.

“Which way?” the fans chant.

“This way,” ushers respond, pointing a giant foam finger toward a station on Doha’s new massive underground metro built for the tournament.

The exchange then finds its rhythm and turns into almost a song: “Metro, metro, metro, this way, this way, this way.”

Abubakar Abbas of Kenya says it all started as a way of easing boredom during his first days of work.

“The fans were just passing by without any engagement,” Abbas told The Associated Press from his high chair outside the Souq Waqif metro station, “So I decided to come up with an idea where I can engage the fans and be interesting at the same time. That’s how I came up with the idea and thank God it is trending now.”

Qatar’s World Cup has already produced memorable moments on the pitch, including Argentina’s surprise defeat to Saudi Arabia and Germany’s loss to Japan.

Outside the stadiums, the marshals trance-like chant is stuck in people’s head.

“Even when I sleep at night, I hear ‘metro, metro, metro’ ringing in my head,” he said.

___

Follow Lujain Jo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lujainjo.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

head coach Gregg Berhalter of the United States and Tyler Adams attend a press conference on the ev...
Associated Press

World Cup Viewer’s Guide: US and Iran pulled into politics

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The American and Iranian soccer teams are the only ones putting politics aside as the sides meet in a match to determine if either nation continues in this World Cup. The two met at the 1998 World Cup in France when memories of the 1979 Islamic Revolution were still fresh for […]
1 day ago
Wales' Gareth Bale reacts during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the ...
Associated Press

Could World Cup be Bale’s goodbye to the global stage?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — With Wales on the verge of World Cup elimination, Gareth Bale was dismissive when asked if Tuesday’s game against England could be the last for his country. “Nope,” was his one-word answer. He chose not to elaborate. While questions hang over Bale’s long-term future, Wales’ concerns are more immediate. If Wales […]
1 day ago
UConn forward Lou Lopez-Senechal (11) and guard Nika Muhl celebrate winning the championship over I...
Associated Press

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Stanford, UConn next

South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday as the Gamecocks keep close watch on the foot injury of reigning Player of the Year Aliyah Boston. The Gamecocks received all 29 first-place votes in the poll released Monday, a day after Boston left a game with […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Casemiro celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the World Cu...
Associated Press

Brazil advances at World Cup, beats Switzerland 1-0

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Brazil struggled without Neymar at the World Cup on Monday. Still, the five-time champions played well enough to secure a spot in the next stage. Brazil overcame the absence of its injured star to beat Switzerland 1-0 and make it to the round of 16 with a match to spare in […]
1 day ago
Lights of the stadium are off during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerl...
Associated Press

Stadium lights dim at Brazil-Switzerland World Cup game

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The lights at Stadium 974 briefly dimmed dramatically just before halftime Monday during a World Cup match between Brazil and Switzerland. Brazil was about to take a corner when the lights at the temporary stadium dimmed enough that the play stopped. The full lights came back on within seconds and play […]
1 day ago
Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson watches during an NCAA college basketball game against Kent State...
Associated Press

Houston reaches No. 1 in AP poll for first time since 1983

Make some room, Phi Slama Jama. Another Houston team has reached the top of men’s college basketball. Nearly four decades after Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon took the Cougars to No. 1, the latest bunch led by Marcus Sasser and star freshman Jarace Walker took over the top spot in the AP Top 25 on […]
1 day ago
Singing street marshals are Qatar World Cup’s surprise stars