Can you imagine traveling to the World Cup and going viral in a country completely different from yours… for the second time? That’s what happened to Brazilian Tomer Savoia, 37, in Qatar.
Four years after becoming famous in Russia after appearing on TV celebrating the country’s classification in a stage of the last World Cup, Tomer has now become a well-known figure in Saudi Arabia, to the point of being sought by the local Ministry of Media.
Television in the country is controlled by the government of King Salman Ben abdel Aziz, as it is one of the most closed countries in the Middle East. There are no free media there.
Tomer was recording a video for his social networks, deceiving Argentine fans when he decided to join the Arabs in the stands of the Lusail stadium, in the debut of the two countries in the World Cup. At that moment, Argentina won the match 1-0.
“I went to do an article for my Instagram that was to deceive the Argentines, dressed as Messi, with his mask and sash, but a Pelé shirt underneath. I entered the middle of the barra brava, which was very risky, and after I did that, I thought I did my job and stuck with the Saudis in the second half. I arrived and wished them luck, but I didn’t believe it. And the guys turned the game around, it was too cool”, said Tomer.
Saudi Arabia’s turnaround was historic. So, the Brazilian – who goes to games wearing a Brazilian Viking hat and a Verde Amarelo shirt – learned the Saudi shouts from the fans and cheered during and after the match with the Arabs.
“I got emotional with the guys crying, it was the victory of a lifetime for the guys. I cried with them. And then at the end of the game, people were singing a song in Arabic that means ‘Where’s Messi? We busted his eye’. And I I wasn’t even drunk, I was just happy to have joined the guys’ drums, I went out singing and dancing with them, and a bunch of people were recording me and asking: ‘Who is this Brazilian singing a song in Arabic that makes fun of Messi?'”, recalled Tomer.
The triumph against the Argentines was so important that the king even declared a holiday. And the Brazilian ended up going viral in the country. Since then, he has gained around 500,000 followers on social media, mostly on TikTok. In Doha, he started to be treated as a celebrity by the Saudis – when the reporter was with the Brazilian, at least 5 Arabs came to ask for a photo. Until the Saudi Media Ministry reached out to him.
“They wanted to make a video with me. And they made a beautiful, edited video. I also received several invitations to Riyadh,” said Tomer.
UOL captured the meeting, which took place in front of the Khalifa stadium last week and resulted in an article on the Ministry’s social networks and also on local television. Saudi Arabia is named after the Al Saud family, which ruled the country and came to power in the 18th century.
In 2018, the Brazilian had already gained fame in Russia, gaining around 300 thousand followers at the time and participating in commercials, music videos and local television programs. But it wasn’t the first time. In 2016, he appeared on the internet when he tricked an Argentine reporter by speaking in Spanish and pretending to be Argentine.
In Qatar, Tomer is called the captain of the Brazilian crowd in Doha, a kind of ambassador. And he also enjoys success in Arabia. The Saudis were one of the countries that most took fans to the World Cup, taking advantage of the proximity between the two countries. However, despite the excitement, they lost the next two games and were knocked out of Worlds.