- As an Islamic country, selling, serving, and consuming alcohol is highly regulated in Qatar.
- At the World Cup, fans will be able to buy booze from licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and in certain zones around stadiums.
- But drinking or being drunk in public is illegal and punishable by jail.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be very different compared to previous tournaments when it comes to soccer fans drinking alcohol.
As an Islamic country, selling, serving, and consuming alcohol is highly regulated in Qatar.
According to the UK Government, it is an “offense to drink alcohol or be drunk in public” in Qatar, and drinking in a public place could “result in a prison sentence of up to six months” and a fine up to $825.
Bringing alcohol into the country is also illegal.
Alcohol is available for fans to purchase from licensed hotel restaurants and bars, however only if you are over 21 years old.
During the World Cup – which runs from November 20 to December 18 – fans will also be able to buy booze from designated areas in and around stadiums before and after matches, according to BBC Sport, as well as at the Arcadia Festival.
According to The Times of London, the Arcadia Festival is a fan area situated about two miles outside of Doha and will serve alcohol for 19 hours each day between 10 a.m. and 5 a.m.
But fans will not be able to buy or consume alcohol inside stadiums during matches (except in hospitality boxes), nor at shops. There is a single state-controlled off-license, but this is restricted to residents who have a valid permit.
“While alcohol will be available to those who want a drink in designated areas, it will not be openly available on the streets,” said Qatar’s World Cup CEO, Nasser Al Khater, in September, according to BBC Sport.
“What we ask is that people, when they visit, stick to these designated areas.”
Al Khater also told Sky News in October that there will be special zones at the tournament for drunken supporters to sober up.
“There are plans in place for people to sober up if they’ve been drinking excessively,” he said. “It’s a place to make sure that they keep themselves safe, they’re not harmful to anybody else.”
Buying and drinking alcohol aren’t the only things that will be different for soccer fans in Qatar.
According to the UK Government, fans “should dress modestly when in public,” while “women must cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts.” Men and women are advised not to wear shorts or sleeveless tops.
Swearing and making rude gestures in public are also considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported.
Intimacy in public between men and women could lead to arrest, according to the UK Government, while homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.
Tournament organizers, however, have insisted that “everyone is welcome” and that there will be no restrictions on LGBTQ+ people staying together in the same room.
Al Khater also told Sky News last month that gay fans will be able to hold hands without fear of being punished.
“All we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture,” he said. “At the end of the day, as long as you don’t do anything that harms other people, if you’re not destroying public property, as long as you’re behaving in a way that’s not harmful, then everybody’s welcome and you have nothing to worry about.”