Official: Qatar to maintain public alcohol ban during World Cup
Football fans will not be able to buy or consume alcohol in Qatar’s streets and public spaces during the 2022 World Cup, tournament organizers have confirmed.
In an interview with Al Sharq this week, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) said that there would be no consumption of alcohol allowed “on the streets, squares and public places, and that is final.”
Hassan Al Thawadi emphasized that alcohol would still be available to fans in certain places. However, availability during the tournament would be “commensurate with our customs and traditions.”
Responding to a request for comment, an SCDL spokesperson told Doha News that the committee’s position had “never really changed” on alcohol and that it would be “available, but not readily available like in other countries.”
Al Thawadi also told Al Sharq that he was “personally against the provision of alcohol in stadiums,” but did no go as far as ruling out its sale at the venues.
This is likely because Brazil sold alcohol in its stadiums during the 2014 World Cup at FIFA’s insistence, despite the fact that the country had previously banned its sale at football matches.
Beer brewer Budweiser is a major FIFA sponsor.
Referencing the pressure faced by other World Cup hosts, Al Thawadi said that Qatar had not yet discussed the issue with FIFA.
But he added that his country has “a very clear position” on alcohol. He also said it had “laws and traditions that are not to be compromised.”
Al Thawadi also told the newspaper that “the (SCDL’s) goal was to narrow (alcohol) consumption to specific places, far away from public spaces.”
He did not go into details about where these places might be, however.
Currently, alcohol is only sold in licensed hotels in Qatar.
Residents who want to drink at home must have a permit before buying alcohol at the country’s only off-license shop, QDC. It is an offense to consume alcohol in public or be publicly drunk.
Previously, organizers have discussed having special fan zones in which alcohol will be available for purchase.
However, Al Thawadi seemed to suggest in this latest interview that he favored creating alcohol-free fan zones.
He referenced a previous zone created at Katara during the 2014 World Cup that was dry, but “full of fans watching the games in an enthusiastic atmosphere.”
“Family-friendly safe areas” are also planned for stadiums so that people of all ages can enjoy the matches, Al Thawadi pledged.
‘Arab and Islamic flavor’
When asked whether hosting the World Cup would negatively affect Qatar’s culture, Al Thawadi said no.
Instead, he believed Qatar would put its own stamp on the games, giving them “an Arab and Islamic flavor.”
“2022 will not be the first international event to be hosted in Qatar,” he told Al Sharq. “Qatar has hosted many international sports events and none of them have negatively impacted our values and traditions.”
“On the contrary, I am certain that the Qatari people and the Arab audiences will influence others by showcasing the Arab and Islamic culture and norms.”
He added that he hoped the tournament would correct some stereotypes some people have about Arabs, Qataris and Muslims.