Some alcohol restrictions in Qatar will be lifted for the 2022 World Cup later this year, but the country’s authorities are warning soccer fans around the globe to not push the envelope.
A top Qatari official said at a news conference this week that fans traveling for the international soccer tournament will not be allowed to bring their own alcohol into the Middle East country. Col. Jassim Abdulrahim Al Sayed, Qatar’s head of the safety and security operations committee, said there are “specific measures” the country will follow if fans attempt to smuggle alcohol into the country.
“Alcohol will not be allowed through the airport and suitcases,” Abdulrahim Al Sayed told ESPN at the press conference in Doha. “There are locations where alcohol will be sold throughout the country.”
Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup, making it also the first Muslim country with alcohol controls to welcome the world for soccer’s biggest event. Consuming alcohol isn’t completely illegal in Qatar as it is in Saudi Arabia, which borders Qatar, but drinking alcohol in public places is against the law, as is public drunkenness. Penalties range from fines to prison sentences up to six months.
For months, Qatari officials have said that alcohol will be available in designated areas in and around the stadiums, but that fans cannot bring their own. Alcohol will be available for purchase inside hotels, stadiums and fan zones during the World Cup.
“There is a misconception about alcohol sales in stadiums and designated zones,” Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser Al Khater said, per ESPN. “We are working like any other World Cup, like usual.
“Very simply, we have always stated that the sale of alcohol [will be] available in Qatar and will make it available in specific zones.”
The World Cup in Qatar will be held from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18, with 32 countries competing for soccer’s ultimate crown. Reuters reports that 1.2 million soccer fans are expected to attend games at the World Cup in Qatar.