Qatar Sets Up Showdown With FIFA Over Alcohol
November 11, 2016
FIFA president Gianni Infantino with Hassan Al-Thawadi (Getty Images)
(WFI) FIFA is facing another potential headache tied to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The head of the country's tournament organizing committee says Qatar will not change its rules on alcoholic beverages during FIFA’s showpiece event.
“There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares and public places and that is final,” Hassan Al-Thawadi, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee, told the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq on Tuesday.
While the consumption of alcohol is legal in licensed clubs and bars in Qatar, it is illegal to drink in public.
Al-Thawadi added “We are against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and their surroundings.”
The comments confirm the worst fears for those who consider the consumption of beer a part of the football experience.
According to Al-Thawadi, Qatar has not yet discussed the issue with FIFA, the New Arab reported.
It could create a controversy between the conservative Muslim country and FIFA, which has come to the rescue of long-time sponsor Budweiser beer previously.
Laws against the sale of alcohol in stadiums in Brazil were temporarily lifted during the 2014 World Cup at FIFA’s insistence.
Russia will allow alcohol consumption at matches for the 2018 World Cup as an exemption to laws that have banned alcohol sales at sporting events since 2005.
FIFA may feel they are owed a little leeway by Qatar, given that football’s governing body has already agreed to disrupt domestic football calendars worldwide by moving the 2022 World Cup to December to avoid the searing heat of the Qatari summer.
FIFA has also held fast in support of Qatar despite scathing international criticism for its treatment of migrant workers. In March, Amnesty International reported that workers building Qatar’s showpiece Khalifa International Stadium had been forced to live in squalid and cramped accommodation, while some contractors had withheld pay, confiscated passports and refused exit visas.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino in April announced the creation of an oversight body to monitor the welfare of workers on the stadium projects.
By INSIDER Gerard Farek
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