Reversing Previous Policy, Qatar Restricts Alcohol At World Cup Stadiums

Dr. E.C. Beuck

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Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of QatarPhoto byAhmad Thamer Al Kuwari on Wikimedia Commons

The World Cup is an event watched and celebrated by billions of people every four years and this year will be no different. Fans in countries around the world will watch game after game on television or online in the hopes of watching their teams make it all the way to the finals. The excitement they feel is only exceeded by those lucky enough to attain tickets to watch the matches in person. If you are familiar with the clips and highlights of World Cups of the past, many of these fans are cheering and singing, beers in hand. Not this year, however. Due to a last minute change by Qatar, beer will be restricted this year.

According to Qatar, fans spectating in any of the eight World Cup stadiums will not be allowed to drink beer, despite a previous policy indicating they would be allowed to do so. Apparently, only the spectators enjoying the high-end luxury suites in the stadiums will have ready access to alcohol. In addition, custom agents are under orders to seize booze brought into Qatar should any visitors be caught bringing it into the country. Only specially licensed restaurants, hotels, and bars will regular fans be allowed to enjoy these kinds of drinks. To drink outside these areas will mean a fan could run afoul of Qatar’s strict laws on alcohol, which include fines and potential time in a Qatari prison. This won’t be the only thing fans traveling to Qatar to enjoy the World Cup should be aware of either.

Beyond alcohol, bringing in pornography and pork products is also subject to import restrictions based on the laws of Qatar. Fans should also take care not to criticize the Islamic faith, or proselytize for another religion, as they might be criminally prosecuted for doing so. Speech critical of the government of Qatar, as well as arguments with other fans during the course of the World Cup could also lead to arrests. Lastly, homosexuality, indecent activities, sex outside marriage, and failure to follow the dress codes set in place by the government of Qatar can all lead to criminal prosecution.

While these are a lot of restrictions to impose, especially given the nature of the World Cup, as host Qatar has a lot of latitude in how they run the tournament. That being said, their announcement of the restriction on alcohol so late before the start of the World Cup perhaps indicates they did not want to let fans and the international community have enough time to criticize or launch protests on the imposed restrictions. Whatever the case may be, Qatar is likely hoping that attendees will keep these rules and restrictions in mind, while still being able to enjoy the games of this World Cup.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC
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