Sunday World (South Africa)

Dry World Cup scores own goal

Tourney without alcohol a dull affair

- Vusi Nzapheza STRAIGHT & 2 BEERS

My flight took off in the evening from OR Tambo Internatio­nal Airport. I was en route to Abu Dhabi for a meeting with a publisher of a Pan African magazine I had been tasked with establishi­ng.

The long-haul flight took more than seven hours and was made worse by bad movies and lack of alcohol on board. That’s when I vowed I’d never ever again fly Etihad Airways.

When it landed on the other side, I looked forward to a shower, a drink and some sleep. Unfortunat­ely, my hotel did not serve alcohol, but the receptioni­st was kind enough to point out where I could find a refreshing beer, which I was not allowed to bring to my room.

The emirates have their own set of laws and don’t take kindly to its flouting, especially by visitors. There, you behave or else, and I did not relish spending time at some Arab prison because of alcohol. I resigned myself to a possibilit­y of a dry spell.

When alcohol at the World Cup stadiums was banned in Qatar on the eve of the tournament, it brought flashbacks of my Abu Dhabi visit six years ago. I felt pity for soccer fans who had bought tickets to the matches and flown to the Qatar. I mean, here at home we had a blast of a World Cup in 2010 as we abided to every whim by Fifa.

I attended a few of the games back then but gave away my compliment­ary tickets because no other brew except Budweiser, one of Fifa sponsors, was allowed at stadiums. I love my tipple, but Budweiser tastes like horse piss. The American brewer announced it had shipped R70-million worth of booze to Qatar ahead of the tournament and would redirect it to the country that wins.

To be sure, there are other venues in the Muslim emirates where alcohol is still served, just not at the stadiums during the matches.

It’s just as well that Bafana Bafana did not crack the nod to take part because some of my countrymen could have flown there to support our boys. Fellow South Africans are quite adept at defying an alcohol ban, as we saw during the liquor bans when Covid-19 raged. We went the extra mile to run circles

around Police Minister Bheki Cele’s troops and set up elaborate networks to obtain liquor on the hog. Remember when the price of pineapple shot sky high because of high demand for a home-brew concoction?

However, those emirates are not South Africa and any disregard for the laws can land one a long stretch at their celled facilities.

Well, I’m enjoying watching some of the matches in the comfort of my lounge with a draught in hand.

 ?? / Gallo Images ?? Football fans enjoying their pint of beer during the Fifa 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
/ Gallo Images Football fans enjoying their pint of beer during the Fifa 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
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