Qatari officials will ban alcohol in streets and other public places during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country’s capital, Doha, and they also are seeking a ban from stadiums during the tournament.
Alcohol will only be allowed in “far-away places,” said the secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Hassan Al Thawadi in an interview with Arabic language newspaper Al-Sharq.
“There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares and public places and that is final,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
The issue of alcohol in the strict Muslim country has long been the subject of debate and the latest announcement is unlikely to go down well with travelling fans already unhappy at Fifa’s decision to stage the World Cup in winter.
Although alcohol is not illegal in Qatar, consumption and sales are restricted. Foreign nationals living in the country can apply for licenses allowing them to drink, and hotels are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages.
Qatari officials have also expressed concerns over the link between alcohol and football-related violence, as witnessed in the clashes between English and Russian fans in Marseille during Euro 2016.
“We are against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and their surroundings,” said Al-Thawadi, adding that Qatar would not compromise its laws to satisfy visiting supporters.
“I did not get into a discussion with FIFA on this matter and there has been great pressure from FIFA on Russia (2018 hosts) to change its laws,” he said.
“But our position is clear — we will legalise according to Qatari law and commensurate with the customs and traditions.”
This could potentially lead to problems with football’s governing body FIFA and major sponsors, including brewers Budweiser.
Al-Thawadi said earlier this year that drunken fans during the 2022 World Cup would be treated “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,” Al-Thawadi said in February. “Everyone will be able to have fun and be exposed to Qatari culture.”