The stands of the football stadiums in Qatar will remain alcohol-free during the World Cup in November and December. Beer will only be available for some matches in the vicinity of the stadiums. The Reuters news agency learned this from a source close to the World Cup organization.
The 2022 World Cup at the end of this year will be the first to take place in a Muslim country, where strict rules on alcohol consumption apply. A challenge for the organizers, because football has been associated with often too exuberant beer-drinking fans since time immemorial. In the past, well-known breweries worldwide were also very often sponsors of the event.
“Plans have yet to be finalized, but there is currently a heated debate about whether football fans will be allowed to consume alcohol before and after World Cup games,” Reuters reports. “In any case, drinking beer during the match or inside the stadium walls will be totally forbidden.”
No alcohol ban in Brazil in 2014
In a document dated June 2 that Reuters was able to get their hands on, organizers provide a first look at how they will deal with the alcohol problem for the estimated 1.2 million football fans expected at the World Cup, most of whom will be the habitually drink alcohol on match days.
Football and the use/abuse of alcoholic beverages have always been a difficult story. In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where a ban on alcohol in stadiums was initially also advocated, the organization had to abandon this measure under pressure from the world football association FIFA.
The issue has been high on the agenda for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar since the Gulf state was assigned to host the World Cup in 2010. Qatar may not be a “dry” state like its neighbors in Saudi Arabia, but drinking alcohol in public places is illegal.
Walled zone for a techno party
However, during the World Cup in November, football fans will be able to purchase beer in the main FIFA fan zone in Al Bidda Park in the capital Doha.
“But unlike previous fan zones, beer will not be served there all day, it will only be the case during limited periods,” the Reuters source added. “Alcohol will also be available to some 15,000 to 20,000 fans in a secluded corner of the Doha Golf Club, miles from the stadiums and the main fan zone. A demarcated zone, walled by a 3-meter high fence, will be transformed into a venue for a techno party for about 10,000 fans, and alcohol will be allowed there too.”
A spokesman for the Qatar 2022 organizing committee said that “when the time is right” and plans will be announced in consultation with FIFA about the availability of alcohol at the 28-day tournament.
“Alcohol is already available in Qatar in clearly defined environments, such as in hotels and bars, and that will not change in 2022,” the spokesperson said.
Up to $20 for a fresh pint?
Although FIFA’s website now makes amusing references to “beer, champagne, wines selected by sommeliers and premium spirits” in the hospitality and VIP suites in the stadiums, no alcohol was sold in those stadiums during a test event in December of last year.
Travelers are not allowed to import alcohol into Qatar, even if purchased duty-free at airports, or at Qatar’s only liquor store in a suburb of Doha. Foreign residents of Qatar can go there to buy alcohol for private use in their homes.
Tourists in Qatar can purchase alcohol in a handful of licensed hotels and clubs. But for a fresh pint, you quickly pay 17 to 20 dollars. How much the prize will be in the fan zones and near the stadiums during the World Cup has yet to be decided. According to other Reuters sources, a ceiling would be set for this. During the World Cup for clubs in 2019, that price was about 6.5 euros.
The document, viewed by Reuters, ultimately also mentions a completely alcohol-free zone of about six kilometers for a family-friendly street carnival, where about 70,000 football fans can party.