Qatari officials said the 500,000 football fans expected to descend on their country during the World Cup will be allowed to consume alcohol in designated zones, but how to best balance the country’s cultural values with Fifa’s requirements for the tournament remains contentious.
“I know in South Africa there were specific courts established during the World Cup for this kind of thing, and that is something we were discussing with Fifa,” the Gulf state’s 2022 Committee chief Hassan Al Thawadi told journalists on the sidelines of a sports conference in Doha.
During its 2010 World Cup, South Africa set up 56 special courts to accelerate cases involving foreign fans so they could be dealt with before either suspects or witnesses left the country.
In South Africa, most court proceedings ended with fines for those found guilty. The same might apply in Qatar, though drug offences often carry jail terms.
Although not “dry”, like neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, alcohol is served only at elite hotels in the Gulf state.
Public drunkenness is prohibited, as is bringing alcohol to Qatar from abroad. “In relation to drunk fans, it will be as it is anywhere, anyone rowdy, anyone who breaches the law, will be very gently taken care of in a manner to make sure people are not disrupting the public order,” said Thawadi.