Debbie Perera wants to spread the word about the British non-league game at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar (Picture: Debbie Perera)
A football-mad England fan who moved to Qatar for the World Cup has defended the host nation after celebrating her birthday with a commemorative cake from her bosses.
Debbie Perera is following the Three Lions on her own but says she has made many friends from around the world along the way and has no fears about being a lone woman supporter.
The maternity nurse, originally from Teeside in the north of England, is working privately for a Qatari family in Doha who marked her 57th birthday yesterday with World Cup-themed gifts.
She is due to sit near the halfway line for the USA clash tonight and plans to head to the Al Bayt Stadium with a ‘United Nations of fans’.
The FIFA games have been clouded by concerns over the hosts’ treatment of LGBTQ+ people and the suppression of rainbow flags at the stadiums.
The seasoned traveller, who moved to Qatar six months ago to work so she could embed in the country before the competition, told Metro.co.uk she has no reservations about the welcome so far.
‘There have been some negative stories but the Qataris have been so welcoming, they have been lovely,’ she said.
‘For my birthday, my bosses bought me a beautiful cake with one half the flag of England and the other the flag of Qatar and an England shirt with Debbie 22 on it to commemorate the World Cup year.
Debbie Perera is heading to matches on her own but has joined other fans from around the world (Picture: Debbie Perera)
The ‘half and half’ commemorative birthday cake gifted to Debbie Perera by her Qatari host family (Picture: Debbie Perera)
‘They have also given me some World Cup mementoes for my son Thomas, who has cerebral palsy and is a massive Redcar fan, from the hospitality and VIP areas of the games they have been to.
‘He is going to send them a Redcar Athletic scarf in return.
‘My bosses have offered me the same hospitality treatment but I want to be out in the stands among the fans.
‘That sums up how the Qataris are, they are so hospitable and welcoming.
‘There is another England fan who the Qataris have taken to the desert to go and see inside a Bedouin tent and to see their culture.
‘There have been some good interactions between the locals and the England fans. It’s heartwarming.’
Debbie (centre) and her friends enjoy a meeting of fans from around the world at a villa in Doha (Picture: Debbie Perera)
England fan Paul Townsend wears his club colours as he meets an Iranian supporter (Picture: Paul Townsend)
Debbie and Omegar Chinseu from Malawi at a private party in a Doha villa before the England v USA game (Picture: Debbie Perera)
Debbie has tickets for seven matches, which included the Iran game, and is using the competition to …read more