Alcohol consumption rules at Qatar World Cup 2022: What we know so far
Qatar's World Cup 2022 stadium stands are reportedly set to be alcohol-free, with beer sales outside arenas only allowed before and after some matches.
Football fans are gearing up for this year's high-octane World Cup 2022 in Qatar. While the showpiece event promises to be an enthralling experience on the field, off, concerns have been raised if fans can enjoy the spectacle in a Muslim nation that strictly controls alcohol as freely as they would in other countries.
For organisers of an event frequently linked to beer drinkers and supported by international brewing corporations, Qatar's stringent alcohol laws and regulations pose particular difficulties. An estimated 1.2 million people are expected to travel to the Gulf nation for the tournament, which usually features fans drinking across host cities.
With four months left for the big-ticket football tournament, here's a look at some of the rules alcohol and beer lovers will have to follow in Qatar strictly:
1. As per reports, event organisers will likely allow fans to have beer upon arrival and when leaving the Qatar World Cup 2022 stadiums. However, beer will not be served during the match or inside the stadium bowl. Fifa chiefs have reportedly agreed with the Muslim host nation that stadium bars will be shut between kick-off and the final whistle.
2. Despite not being a dry state like Saudi Arabia, public drinking in Qatar is prohibited. However, being intoxicated in public is not permitted, and fans who overindulge risk being charged with crimes and imprisoned.
3. Beer sales will also be permitted at specific times at the major FIFA fan zone in the Al Bidda Park in Doha, the Qatari capital, for World Cup attendees in November. According to reports, beers won't be served all day long but at limited times, unlike previous World Cup fan zones.
4. Also, alcohol will be available for 15,000 to 20,000 spectators on a vacant portion of the Doha Golf Club, some distance from the stadiums and the major spectator area.
5. A sandy area between a hotel's delivery entrance and a district cooling plant that is encircled by a ten-foot wall will also be converted into a 10,000-person venue that will feature techno music and booze.
6. Visitors cannot bring alcohol into Qatar, not even from the airport duty-free. They cannot purchase alcohol at the only liquor store in the nation, which is located outside of Doha and only allows foreign citizens with licences to purchase alcohol for personal use.
7. Visitors to Qatar can purchase alcohol at a few authorised hotels and clubs, where a pint of beer can cost up to 15 pounds (Rs 1425.58). According to reports, the cost of beer in the fan zones and the stadium's vicinity has not yet been decided.
Formal confirmation of drinking rules will come before the tournament, which starts in Doha on November 21.
A representative of the event's organisers, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said they would work with FIFA to announce the 28-day competition's alcohol policy "in due course".
"Alcohol is already available in designated areas in Qatar, such as hotels and bars, and this will not change in 2022. With the aim of catering to visiting fans in 2022, alcohol will be available in additional designated areas during the tournament,' the spokesperson said.
Alcohol was not sold in stadiums in December during a test event for the World Cup, despite FIFA's website advertising free-flowing "beers, Champagne, sommelier-selected wines, and premium spirits" in-stadium VIP hospitality suites.
Except for the hospitality zones, which offered full bar service, the only beer offered at stadiums during the 2018 World Cup in Russia was alcohol-free. To placate the tournament's big sponsors, FIFA put pressure on Brazil in 2014 to lift its ban on alcohol.