Qatari authorities want dry World Cup

DOHA • Alcohol will be banned from streets and public places and, if Qatari officials get their way, even stadiums during the 2022 football World Cup, the head of the country's tournament organising committee said on Tuesday.

The comments by Hassan Al-Thawadi will further alarm football traditionalists already unhappy that the tournament will be moved to the winter because of fierce summer temperatures in Qatar.

A ban on alcohol inside stadiums - there has long been speculation about what the conservative Muslim country would do on the tricky issue of alcohol for the World Cup - could bring organisers into conflict with Fifa and powerful sponsors, including Budweiser.

"There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares and public places and that is final," Al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said in an interview printed on the website of Arabic language newspaper Al-Sharq.

"We are against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and their surroundings."

There will not be a total alcohol ban, but drinking will be permitted only in "faraway places", said Al-Thawadi, without going into details.

Drinking of alcohol is not illegal in Qatar and alcohol is available in hotels, while expatriates who live in the Gulf emirate can buy alcohol after applying for a licence.

Public drinking, however, is prohibited and bringing alcohol into the country is also forbidden.

The official said Qatar would resist attempts to change the country's laws for the tournament, as has happened with previous World Cup hosts. In the run-up to Brazil 2014, it was widely reported that Fifa demanded alcohol be served at stadiums, which was against Brazilian law at the time. The hosts finally relented.

The Qatar organisers have already stated that they feared alcohol helped contribute to some of the violence seen in France during Euro 2016.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Qatari authorities want dry World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe