Just 48 hours before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA has announced it will ban the sale of alcoholic beverages in stadiums after intense pressure from the kingdom’s powerful royal family.
More than a million and a half soccer fans from around the world prepare to descend on the Gulf state to witness the biggest sporting competition.
But the last-minute intervention by the strict rulers of the Muslim nation will be a blow to bettors hoping to enjoy the sporting spectacle.
FIFA-confirmed alcohol sales will now be limited to special “fan zones”, where pints are expected to cost a whopping £12 and will only be available at certain times, with a limit of four people per person.
It’s the latest controversy to plague this year’s World Cup and a further demonstration of the strict rules fans should expect to follow, with drinking, swearing and sex potentially putting tourists at risk of being jailed, flogged , or worse.
What are the laws on alcohol?
Soccer fans are warned not to get too drunk if they have traveled to Qatar to watch the World Cup. Pictured: Fans celebrating with beers during the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England in July 2021
Soccer fans found drunk on the street could be jailed or hit with heavy fines.
Drinking alcohol in public spaces is prohibited under the country’s strict rules and could result in those caught being jailed for six months.
But other punishments that have been applied to people found drinking alcohol have included public lashings.
However, security chiefs in Qatar are understood to be taking a more relaxed view during this year’s tournament, with police expected to turn a blind eye to most offences. But those fans caught getting into fights or vandalizing property should expect to be punished.
Supporters are urged to avoid buying duty-free alcoholic beverages because importing alcohol is illegal. And anyone found taking it into the country will have their stash confiscated and could face jail time.
Fans will be able to buy alcohol at hotels and in designated ‘fan zones’, but drinking on the street will be prohibited. Pictured: Soccer fans wait for the England players to arrive at their hotel in Al Wakra on Tuesday.
Alcohol is normally only served in hotel restaurants and bars that have licenses in Qatar. It is illegal to consume it anywhere else.
However, non-Muslim Doha residents with a drinking license are allowed to drink at home.
At the World Cup, punters will be able to buy beer inside designated ‘fan zones’ in central Doha. But there will be a limit on when people can buy alcohol, and a limit on how much they can buy.
As in the United States, the legal drinking age in Qatar is 21 and bar bouncers often ask for photo ID or passports when people enter.
What are the LGBTQ+ laws in Qatar?
Same-sex relationships are prohibited in Qatar, and homosexual acts are considered “immoral” under Sharia law.
Punishments can include fines and prison terms of up to seven years. But death sentences can also be passed.
Article 285 of the nation’s penal code also criminalizes ‘inducing, instigating or seducing a man in any way to commit sodomy’ and ‘inducing or seducing a man or woman in any way to commit illegal or immoral acts’ .
World Cup organizers insisted that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, would be welcome in Qatar “without fear of any kind of repercussions.”
But earlier this month, a World Cup ‘ambassador’ from Qatar came under fire for claiming that homosexuality is ‘mental damage’.
In an interview filmed in Doha, former Qatari international Khalid Salman addressed the issue of homosexuality, which is illegal in the conservative Muslim country.
‘(Homosexuality) is haram. Do you know what haram (forbidden) means? Salman said in an interview.
When asked why it was haram, Salman said: ‘I am not a strict Muslim, but why is it haram? Because it is a damage in the mind.
However, gay couples will be allowed to openly hold hands, hug and kiss at the World Cup in Qatar, despite the fact that the Arab state has banned public displays of affection, it is claimed.
FIFA has held secret meetings with Qatar’s interior ministry and convinced it to stop officers from its Preventive Security Department from arresting gay supporters at the World Cup.
Meanwhile, traditional symbols representing the LBGTQ+ community, including rainbow flags, could be confiscated to protect fans from being targeted for promoting gay rights.
What are the laws on clothing and dress?
The country has a strict dress code and Qatari women are expected to wear the traditional abaya, a long dark robe that covers the entire body. Pictured is a woman wearing an abaya in the Qatari capital Doha on Friday.
Visitors to Qatar are urged to dress modestly, and the country’s tourism website says that men and women should “show respect for local culture by avoiding excessively revealing clothing in public.”
Visitors are asked to cover their shoulders and knees, and those caught wearing shorts or sleeveless tops could be turned away from government buildings, markets and major shopping complexes.
When out in public, Qatari women are expected to wear the abaya, which is a long, dark robe that covers the entire body.
However, foreign visitors do not need to wear this or cover their hair. But they are expected to cover their shoulders and wear skits or dresses that hit below the knee.
In hotels, it’s a different story, where bikinis are commonly worn around the pool.
Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic staff flying with the England team to Qatar were told not to wear gender-neutral uniforms, but instead to dress in more traditional cabin crew garb.
What advice does the Home Office give traveling fans?
The Interior Ministry has urged fans to be “respectful” of Qatari laws and customs. Pictured: England fans in Doha, Qatar, on November 11.
The Government urges football fans to pay close attention to Qatari law and be ‘respectful’ of the nation’s customs.
Fans traveling to the country are urged to ensure their actions “do not offend” anyone as there could be “serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK” such as importing pork. , alcohol or anything potential. pornographic.
Visitors must not become involved with drugs while in Qatar and can expect a “severe penalty for possession of even trace amounts.”
“There is zero tolerance for drugs in Qatar,” the UK government said on its website. ‘Penalties for drug use, trafficking, smuggling and possession can include lengthy prison terms, heavy fines and deportation.’
On sexuality, the government said private life in Qatar was “largely respected” but any display of public privacy “may be considered offensive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intent.”
For a full list of tips, see the Government website, here.
What are the items that I cannot bring to Qatar for the World Cup?
Items that people are not allowed to bring into Qatar include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). In the photo, a woman vaping an electronic cigarette in Birmingham.
The importation of pornography and sex toys, pork products and religious books into Qatar is also illegal and all luggage is scanned at the arrivals hall of Hamad International Airport and contraband is seized.
Any medication purchased without a prescription, such as codeine, must come with a prescription note or it will be taken away.
Those caught with contraband narcotics could face hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences.
Qatari law also prohibits the import, sale, and purchase of e-cigarettes, liquids, and other similar products.