DOHA, Qatar – the teeny-tiny yet fabulously wealthy gulf nation is famous for hosting soccer’s World Cup. Redrawing an entire nation by building roads, sidewalks, and a gleaming stadium, a marathon of planning and patience goes into it. However, is alcohol allowed in Qatar Football Stadiums?
Qatar Football Stadiums Have Banned Alcohol
Initially, FIFA ticket holders had access to alcohol within the stadium perimeter. However, the decision has been reversed now. Alcohol is now banned at the event’s eight stadiums to the consternation of the roughly one million fans that are set to arrive.
A FIFA statement read: “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.”
This, of course, wasn’t expected to happen. In the forthcoming event, only non-alcoholic beverages will be allowed within the stadium perimeter. Non-alcoholic beer will set fans back £7, with bottles of water to cost £2.30.
However, alcohol will be made available only for those who have paid for hospitality boxes. But they are quoted at a price of £19,000, which is extremely expensive. And so, normal fans may not have access to it.
Speaking on talkSPORT, Qatar’s ambassador said: “A lot has been said about Qatari rules and the way they are in their country.
“This is one I don’t really think I’m opposed to, Jim. I think a dry, sober World Cup might be a good one for all of us.
“What I don’t really enjoy is the choice has been taken away from us, balance should be allowed to be had.”
Alcohol is Banned But “Beer” Will Still be Available
Public consumption of alcohol is controlled in Qatar. This move backtracks on an agreement to sell beer to football fans. In September, the organizing committee chief executive Naser Al-Khater said that the sale of beer at Qatar’s stadiums would be “no different than any other World Cup.”
American brewery Budweiser has a sponsorship deal with FIFA worth roughly $75 million (€72 million). Thus, giving it the exclusive right to sell beer at the event. It has been a major sponsor of every World Cup tournament since 1986.
Budweiser released a statement following the announcement, saying the restrictions were “beyond our control.”
In Qatar, Budweiser had planned to sell alcohol within the ticketed perimeter of the eight World Cup stadiums for a window spanning three hours before each game until one hour after each game. FIFA said beer would still be available at the fan zone in Doha
“A larger number of fans are attending from across the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play such a large role in the culture,” an inside source told the Reuters news agency shortly before the official announcement.
However, “Budweiser will still sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha”, the source said. A half pint will cost around $14 (€9).
Exceptions expected for VIPs
While alcoholic beer will not be sold to general spectators, VIPs will have full-fledged access. The Associated Press reported that champagne, whiskey and other drinks are also still expected to be available at luxury hospitality venues. Meanwhile, some observers slammed the last-minute U-turn.
“For many fans, whether they don’t drink alcohol or are used to dry stadium policies at home, this is a detail. It won’t change their tournament,” said Ronan Evain, the executive director of the fan group Football Supporters Europe.
“But with 48 hours to go, we’ve clearly entered a dangerous territory — where ‘assurances’ don’t matter anymore.”