Will fans be allowed to drink alcohol at 2022 World Cup Qatar?
2022 World Cup Qatar will be the first to be held in a Muslim country where consuming alcohol is forbidden.
This year’s World Cup in Qatar is expected to attract millions of football fans from all corners of the globe. Organisers are expecting around 1,500,000 visitors over the duration of the tournament, which kicks off on 21 November and reaches its climax with the final in Lusail on Sunday 18 December.
A large portion of those travelling fans will be regular drinkers - for most fans, there is a social side to the ritual of attending football matches and that usually includes a drink with friends either before the game or after it, sometimes both. Football and drinking has been “inextricably linked” since the sport was invented - although not all match-goers consume alcohol and habits have changed drastically since the 1980s.
World Cup Qatar will be the first time the event has been held in a Muslim country where, traditionally, consuming alcohol is forbidden. Consuming alcohol is completely banned in some parts of the Middle East such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where it is illegal for anyone to produce, import, sell or consume alcohol; and while it is tolerated to a degree in some neighbouring nations, consumption is generally very low and alcohol-free beer is widely available as an alternative.
So what is Qatar’s stance on alcohol and how will it affect the World Cup? Alcohol laws in Qatar are less strict than some of their neighbours but those planning to attend this year’s finals are advised to follow government travel guidelines and respect local laws and customs.
Qatar alcohol laws: where drinking is permitted
The UK’s travel advice for those travelling to and from Qatar states: “It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. British nationals have been detained under this law, usually when they have come to the attention of the police on a related matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour. Drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine up to QAR3,000. Alcohol is available only at licensed hotel restaurants and bars; expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home). The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, and establishments serving alcohol will ask for original photo ID upon entry”.
The US Embassy in Doha offers similar advice: “Penalties for public intoxication and other alcohol-related offenses are severe, including immediate arrest, heavy fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation”.
No alcohol inside the stadiums
Qatar’s World Cup stadiums will be alcohol-free. Beer will be available to buy at Fan Zone stands located outside the ground both before and after some matches - but only at certain, specific times, not all day long. “At stadiums, the plans are still being finalised, but the current discussion is to allow fans to have beer upon arrival and when leaving the stadium, but beer won’t be served during the match or inside the stadium bowl,” a source involved in organising the event told Reuters.
Some areas further away from the World Cup stadiums will be designated for fans to convene and have a drink including a zone next to Doha Golf Club which will accommodate 15,000-20,000 fans. The main party zone next to FIFA’s Fan Festival site will be alcohol-free.
American brewing company Budweiser is the only alcohol-related brand among the list of official sponsors for Qatar 2022 - they will be advertising the brand during matches and their products will be available. Beer prices will be capped for the duration of the World Cup, but expect to pay anywhere between $7-9 for a pint.