Alcohol Sales Will Be Banned During 2022 World Cup

By Britni de la Cretaz 11/11/16

This is not the first time the World Cup has come up against alcohol regulations.

Alcohol Sales Will Be Banned During 2022 World Cup

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to be held in Qatar, but don’t expect to see the usual intoxicated fans that fill the stadiums. The country announced this week that it will adhere to its current laws around alcohol and ban its consumption from public stadiums, streets, and squares during the event.

Secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Al-Thawadi, told Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq, “I am personally against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and public places based on our values and our traditions and our culture.” As it stands now, the law in Qatar makes it illegal to drink alcohol or be drunk in public, and anyone who violates the law faces consequences like arrests, fines, and even deportation.

This is not the first time the World Cup has come up against alcohol regulations. In 2014, the event was held in Brazil, where it is normally illegal to sell alcohol inside stadiums. But FIFA requested to change the law for the duration of the World Cup and that request was granted, allowing alcohol sales during the games.

Alcohol sales in Brazil had been banned during soccer games to prevent violence, but since Budweiser was a main sponsor of the World Cup, that presented a conflict of interest for FIFA, hence why they asked to have alcohol sold at the event.

But the concerns about violence were not unwarranted. During the event, then-FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said he was surprised at just how drunk soccer fans had been, citing several instances of drink-fueled violence. These included fights between fans from Colombia and Uruguay, an England fan who had his ear bitten off by another England fan, and hoards of Argentina fans running wild in the streets.

It does not appear that such incidents will arise in Qatar, though fans will still be offered places to drink that are “specific and faraway ... from the public squares,” said Al-Thawadi. Drinking is allowed in many luxury hotels, but only for foreigners. The country itself only has two liquor stores, and a permit is required in order to enter them, according to Deadspin. It’s also not recommended that visitors try to bring their own alcohol into the country, as the airport searches travelers' bags.

Alcohol has always been a large part of football culture, and many players themselves have struggled with alcohol use. In 2000, English player Tony Adams, named one of the Football League’s “100 Legends,” started the Sporting Chance Clinic to provide treatment, counseling and support for athletes suffering from addictions.

In his autobiography Back from the Brink, Irish footballer Paul McGrath tells of his struggles with alcoholism and how his story has become a way for him to help others. Matías Almeyda, who coached Argentina in the 2014 World Cup and now coaches in Mexico, says that he struggled with alcohol at various points in his life, as well.

With alcohol being such a large part of World Cup culture, it remains to be seen how the ban on sales in Qatar will affect the games in 2022.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
britni headshot.png

Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.