No al­co­hol in streets, pub­lic places at World Cup: Qatar

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Al­co­hol will be banned from streets and pub­lic places and if Qatari of­fi­cials get their way even sta­di­ums dur­ing the 2022 World Cup, the head of the coun­try’s tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee said on Tues­day.

The com­ments by Has­san Al-Thawadi will fur­ther alarm foot­ball tra­di­tion­al­ists al­ready un­happy that the tour­na­ment will be moved to the win­ter be­cause of fierce sum­mer tem­per­a­tures in Qatar. A ban on al­co­hol in­side sta­di­ums-there has long been spec­u­la­tion about what the con­ser­va­tive Mus­lim coun­try would do on the tricky is­sue of al­co­hol for the World Cup-could bring or­gan­is­ers into con­flict with FIFA and pow­er­ful spon­sors.

“There will be no al­co­hol con­sump­tion on the streets, squares and pub­lic places and that is fi­nal,” Al-Thawadi, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Supreme Com­mit­tee for De­liv­ery and Legacy, said in an in­ter­view printed on the web­site of Ara­bic lan­guage news­pa­per Al-Sharq. “We are against the pro­vi­sion of al­co­hol in sta­di­ums and their sur­round­ings.” There will not be a to­tal al­co­hol ban, but drink­ing will be per­mit­ted only in “far­away places”, said Al-Thawadi, with­out go­ing into de­tails. Drink­ing of al­co­hol is not il­le­gal in Qatar and al­co­hol is avail­able in ho­tels, while ex­pats who live in the Gulf emi­rate can buy drink af­ter ap­ply­ing for a li­cence. Pub­lic drink­ing how­ever is pro­hib­ited and bring­ing al­co­hol into the coun­try is also for­bid­den.

The of­fi­cial said Qatar would re­sist at­tempts to change the coun­try’s laws for the tour­na­ment, as has hap­pened with pre­vi­ous World Cup hosts. “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 beer gi­ant Bud­weiser. In the run-up to the tour­na­ment in Brazil in 2014, it was widely re­ported that FIFA de­manded al­co­hol be served at sta­di­ums, which was against Brazil­ian law at the time. The South Amer­i­can hosts fi­nally re­lented.

As well as the im­pact on cul­tural tra­di­tions there has been grow­ing con­cern in Qatar about the link be­tween al­co­hol and the be­hav­iour of fans, es­pe­cially fol­low­ing clashes at the Eu­ros in France ear­lier this year, most no­tably be­tween English and Rus­sian fans.

Or­gan­is­ers have al­ready stated they feared al­co­hol helped con­trib­ute to some of the vi­o­lence seen in France.

Al-Thawadi said ear­lier this year that drunken fans dur­ing the 2022 World Cup would be treated “gently”. It has been es­ti­mated by or­gan­is­ers that up to one mil­lion fans could de­scend on Qatar for the 2022 tour­na­ment. Many of these could stay in ho­tels, spe­cially de­signed camp­sites and cruise ships. — AFP

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