With just 48 hours until the kick-off of the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA has announced it will ban the sale of liquor in stadiums after intense pressure from the kingdom’s powerful royal family.
More than one and a half million football fans from all over the world will flock to the Gulf state to witness the biggest competition in sports.
But the intervention of the strict Muslim nation at the eleventh hour will be a blow to gamblers hoping to enjoy the sporting spectacle.
FIFA confirmed that alcohol sales will now be limited to special ‘fan zones’, where pints are expected to cost as much as £12 and will only be available at certain times – with each person limited to four.
It’s the latest controversy to plague this year’s World Cup and another demonstration of the strict rules fans are supposed to follow, involving booze, swearing and sex, potentially putting tourists at risk of jail, flogging – or worse.
What are the laws on alcohol?
Football fans are warned not to get too drunk after flying to Qatar to watch the World Cup. Pictured: Fans celebrate with beer during the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England in July 2021
Football fans found drunk on the street risk imprisonment or heavy fines.
Slurping alcohol in public places is prohibited under the country’s strict rules and can result in those caught receiving up to six months in prison.
But other punishments meted out for people caught drinking booze include public whipping.
However, it is believed that security bosses in Qatar will take a more relaxed view at this year’s tournament, with police reportedly turning a blind eye to most offences. But those fans caught fighting or destroying property should expect to be punished.
Supporters are urged not to buy duty-free drinks because the importation of alcohol is illegal. And anyone caught entering the country will have their stock confiscated and face jail time.
Fans can purchase alcohol in hotels and designated ‘fan zones’, but drinking on the street is prohibited. Pictured: Football fans wait for England players to arrive at their hotel in Al Wakra on Tuesday
Alcohol is normally only served in licensed hotel restaurants and bars in Qatar. It is illegal to consume it anywhere else.
However, non-Muslim residents of Doha who have a liquor license can drink at home.
At the World Cup, gamblers are allowed to buy beer in the designated ‘fan zones’ in the center of Doha. But there’s going to be a limit to when people can buy alcohol – and a limit to how much they can buy.
As in America, 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?
LGBT fans are urged to be careful of Qatar’s strict rules against homosexuality. Pictured is a person holding a rainbow flag at an LGBTQ rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 5
Same-sex relationships are banned in Qatar and homosexual acts are considered “immoral” under sharia law.
Penalties can include fines and prison sentences of up to seven years. But death sentences can also be handed down.
Article 285 of the national penal code also punishes “leading, inducing or enticing in any way a man to commit sodomy” and “in any way inciting or enticing a man or woman to commit illegal or immoral acts’.
The organizers of the World Cup have insisted that everyone – regardless of their sexual orientation – should be welcome in Qatar “without any kind of fear or repercussions”.
But earlier this month, a Qatar World Cup ‘ambassador’ came under fire for claiming homosexuality is ‘harm to the mind’.
In an interview filmed in Doha, former Qatari international Khalid Salman spoke about 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 damage in the mind.’
However, gay couples will be able to openly hold hands, hug and kiss during the World Cup in Qatar, despite public displays of affection being banned by the Arab state, it is claimed.
FIFA has held secret meetings with Qatar’s interior ministry and persuaded it to prevent agents from its preventive security department from arresting gay supporters during the World Cup.
Meanwhile, traditional symbols representing the LBGTQ+ community – including rainbow flags – could be confiscated to protect fans from attacks for promoting gay rights.
What are the laws on clothes and dress?
The country has a strict dress code, with Qatari women 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 of Doha on Friday
Visitors to Qatar are urged to dress modestly, with the country’s tourism website saying men and women should “show respect for the local culture by avoiding overly revealing clothing in public.”
Visitors are asked to cover their shoulders and knees, with those caught wearing shorts or sleeveless tops potentially being turned away from government buildings, markets and major shopping complexes.
In public, Qatari women are expected to wear the abaya, a long dark robe that covers the entire body.
However, foreign visitors are not required to wear this or cover their hair. But they are expected to cover their shoulders and wear skits or dresses that fall below the knee.
It’s a different story in hotels, where bikinis are often worn around the pool.
Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic staff flying to Qatar with the England team were told not to wear gender-neutral uniforms, but instead to dress in more traditional cabin crew outfits.
What advice does the Home Office give traveling fans?
The Interior Ministry has urged fans to be “respectful” of Qatar’s laws and customs. Pictured: England fans in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 11
The government urges football fans to pay close attention to Qatari law and to “respect” the country’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 may not be illegal in the UK” such as importing pork, alcohol or whatever. pornographic.
Visitors are not allowed to come into contact with drugs during their stay in Qatar and can expect “severe penalties for possession of even residual amounts.”
“There is zero tolerance for drugs in Qatar,” the British government said on its website. “The penalties for drug use, trafficking, smuggling and possession can include long prison sentences, heavy fines and deportation.”
On sexuality, the government said private life was “largely respected” in Qatar, but that all displays of public intimacy “could be considered offensive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intentions.”
For a full list of advisories, see the government’s website, here.
What items can I not bring to Qatar for the World Cup?
Among the items that people are not allowed to bring into Qatar are electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Pictured is a woman vaping from an e-cigarette in Birmingham
Importing pornography and sex toys, pork products and religious books into Qatar is also illegal, with all luggage scanned in the arrivals hall of Hamad International Airport and contraband seized.
Over-the-counter drugs, such as codeine, must be accompanied by a prescription or taken away.
Those caught with contraband can face heavy fines and long prison terms.
Qatar law also prohibits the importation, sale and purchase of electronic cigarettes, liquids and other similar products.