AKIPRESS.COM - Beer and sports may go hand-in-hand in some parts of the world, but not Qatar, where FIFA plans to stage the 2022 World Cup. Officials in the Middle Eastern country announced on Tuesday it would ban the public consumption of alcohol during the tournament, including on streets, public squares and in the stadiums, reported The Washington Post.
“I am personally against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and public places based on our values and our traditions and our culture,” the secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Al-Thawadi said.
Al-Thawadi said the country would adhere to its current policies regarding alcohol and allow those who wish to drink to still do so in “specific and faraway places from the public squares.”
The stiffness of Qatar’s restrictions on public consumption of alcohol are unprecedented in World Cup history. Although beer and alcohol bans are fairly common in soccer stadiums around the world as a measure to curb violence, beer has always been a part of World Cup culture.
When Brazil tried to push for an alcohol ban in its World Cup stadiums ahead of the 2014 tournament, then-FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke pushed back.
“Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them,” he said. “Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate.”
Qatar’s strict cultural norms have long been an issue in the run-up to the tournament, which was moved from the summer months to the winter due to concerns about dangerously high temperatures. Of particular concern are the country’s treatment of women and the LGBT community. Under the law, women must cover their shoulders and dress modestly, being careful of showing too much skin. Homosexuality, meanwhile, is outlawed altogether and punishable by up to seven years in prison for foreigners and expatriates. Qatari natives who identify as LGBT could face death sentences.