Qatar to maintain public alcohol ban during World Cup

Qatar to maintain public alcohol ban during World Cup
Alcohol will be banned on streets and public places in Qatar during the 2022 World Cup, the head of the country's tournament organising committee said on Tuesday.
2 min read
10 November, 2016
The consumption of alcohol is permitted in licensed clubs and bars [Getty]

Football fans will not be allowed to buy or consume alcohol in Qatar's public spaces during the 2022 World Cup, tournament organisers have confirmed.

"There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares and public places and that is final," the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) told Qatari daily al-Sharq.

Hassan al-Thawadi said however that alcohol would still be available to fans in certain places, though availability during the tournament would be "commensurate with our customs and traditions".

"We are against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and their surroundings," he added.

"Family-friendly safe areas" are also planned for stadiums so people of all ages can enjoy the games, he pledged.

According to Thawadi, Qatar has not yet discussed the issue with FIFA, though the country has "a very clear position" on alcohol, as well as "laws and traditions that are not to be compromised".

There has long been speculation about what the conservative Muslim country would do on the controversial issue of alcohol consumption during the upcoming world event, which could bring organisers into conflict with FIFA and powerful sponsors, including beer giant Budweiser.

Organisers have previously discussed having special fan zones in which alcohol would be available for purchase.

In February, Thawadi said that Qatar might set up special courts for the World Cup to deal with drunk and disorderly fans "very gently".

"In relation to drunk fans it will be as it is anywhere else. Anyone who is rowdy, anyone who breaches the law, will be very gently - depending on how they react - taken care of in a manner to make sure that people are not disrupting the public order," he told reporters at the time.

Although public drunkenness is banned in Qatar, the consumption of alcohol is permitted in licensed clubs and bars - the majority of which are located in five-star hotels and priced at a level that excludes most of the migrant labourers building the stadia.

Hosting the World Cup, however, will bring particular challenges to the conservative state as it attempts to balance its religious values with FIFA requirements.

Thawadi's latest comments will further alarm football traditionalists already unhappy that the tournament will be moved to the winter because of fierce summer temperatures in Qatar.