FIFA WC Rules: Qatar Government makes U-TURN in ALCOHOL rules, NO Alcohol to be SOLD in Qatar Stadium for Fans
After years of anticipation – and controversy – since Qatar was awarded the World Cup, the tournament finally got underway on Sunday in Doha.
Even before a ball was kicked, some sore spots arose. Despite years of planning, just two days before the tournament kicked off, Qatar announced a ban on alcoholic beer at the eight stadiums hosting the World Cup in a surprising volte-face.
Now, fans traveling to the country might be wondering where they stand with the rest of the host country’s local laws and customs.
The sale and consumption of alcohol have been a highly contentious issue since Qatar was first announced as the World Cup host 12 years ago.
The Muslim country is considered to be very conservative and tightly regulates alcohol sales and consumption.
In Qatar, it’s illegal to be seen drunk in public, and those who violate this could face legal consequences. According to UK government advice on traveling to Qatar, drinking in a public place could “result in a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine up to 3,000 Qatar Rial ($824).”
In September, Qatar had said it would permit ticketed fans to buy alcoholic beer at World Cup soccer matches starting three hours before kick-off and for one hour after the final whistle, but not during the match.
Then two days before the first match, soccer’s world governing body FIFA confirmed that no alcohol would be sold at the eight stadiums which will host the tournament’s 64 matches.
Alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks and other licensed venues around Doha, FIFA said in a statement.
“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations, and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” a FIFA spokesperson said in the statement.
Still, some fans will be able to consume alcohol at matches – at a price. Supporters can purchase a Match Hospitality package, with prices ranging from $950 to $4,950 per match, for varying services and including alcohol.
A spokeswoman for Match Hospitality told CNN Sport that their packages are not impacted by FIFA’s policy change.
Nonetheless, alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system, according to UK government advice.