World Cup organisers in Qatar have been hit with claims of ‘total hypocrisy’ after banning fans from drinking beer in and around the country’s stadiums over the course of the tournament. The sale of alcohol is strictly controlled in Qatar, who had to relax their regulations to allow FIFA sponsors Budweiser to sell beer outside stadiums and in fan zones.
This measure was partially overturned on Friday with just two days until the World Cup gets underway and many fans having already travelled to the country under the impression they would be allowed to drink. Qatari officials have since come under fire after video footage taken by The Mirror showed FIFA delegates and guests indulging in expensive champagne at a lavish party after the World Cup draw earlier this year.
England boss Gareth Southgate was among the revellers at the post-draw gathering, with attendees enjoying a selection of alcoholic beverages despite regular fans being unable to drink beer at World Cup stadiums. A number of drunken delegates were said to have invaded the stage to burst into a chorus of: “Ole, ole, ole, Qatar, Qatar,” while a waitress is quoted as saying: “It’s expensive French champagne and they are all drinking it like water. They just don’t care.”
The footage has sparked fury among supporters on their way to the World Cup, with England fan Neal Weekes one of several Qatar-bound fans with a hardline view on the matter. He said: “They are threatening us with no beer before the games, it’s outrageous. It’s one rule for them and one for us. It’s always the diehard fans who miss out. Total hypocrisy, it’s a disgrace.”
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A FIFA statement released on Friday confirmed that beer would not be sold at stadiums in Qatar over the course of the World Cup after a last-minute reversal of their previous plans. It read: “Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.
“There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums. Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.
“The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Alcohol is usually off-limits in Qatar unless it is consumed in hotel bars or restaurants away from streets, although fans at the World Cup will still be allowed to drink inside allocated fan zones after 6:30pm. Drunk supporters will even be sent to specialist zones to sober up if they are deemed to be intoxicated by officials in the country.
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