The World Cup is a combination of an international celebration and an athletic event, and for many fans, alcohol plays a significant role. This has been true both in bars that open early or remain open late to screen games and in stadiums.
But the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 will be unique. Officials made the unexpected revelation that spectators won’t be permitted to consume beer at the nation’s eight World Cup stadiums — a reversal of a previously declared policy — just two days before the tournament’s opening game in the Muslim country.
Qatar has strict laws governing alcohol, and customs officials are instructed to seize any alcohol that tourists attempt to import.
It’s just one of many cultural mismatches and even legal problems that visitors from more liberal countries may experience in Qatar. Here is an overview:
No Alcoholic Drinks in Public
Consider the fact that FIFA was successful in pressuring Brazil to amend its federal laws to permit alcohol sales at its stadiums before it organized the 2014 World Cup, overturning a ban that had been put in place because of violence at its stadiums, as a sign of how significant the shift in Qatar is.
During the 2012 FIFA World Cup, Jerome Valcke, then-FIFA secretary general, declared, “Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them.” ” Excuse me if I sound a little cocky, but we won’t negotiate that.”
It was then, though. Regular spectators will not have access to alcohol at games in Qatar. Only visitors to the luxurious suites at the stadiums will have easy access to alcohol. Outside of the stadiums, spectators can still consume alcohol in designated World Cup gathering areas or in hotels, clubs, and restaurants with specific permits around the nation.
According to the Library of Congress, it is generally forbidden to drink alcohol in public in Qatar; violators face fines of up to $800 and jail sentences of up to six months. According to the government, anyone caught bringing alcohol into the country might spend up to three years in jail.
Religious restrictions apply to fans.
In a fact sheet about Qatar for World Cup guests, the State Department stated that Islam is the country’s official religion and that anyone found to be promoting other religions or denigrating Islam “may be severely prosecuted.”
It’s also risky to believe that you may freely exercise your religion: “Qatar allows certain non-Muslim religious activity in specified areas like Doha’s Religious Complex, but all religions are not accommodated equally,” according to the U.S. agency.
In a film outlining Qatar’s laws, the State Department stated that foreigners “cannot bring pig products” into the country in addition to import bans on alcohol and pornography.
Another restriction is on public speech
An arrest could result from speaking out against the Qatari administration. Both spoken language and social media are subject to these restrictions.
And while previous World Cups have seen their fair share of quarreling and wrangling scenes of opposing fans screaming or even singing profanity at one another—open disputes can cause significant issues in Qatar.
According to the State Department advisory film, “for instance, arguing with or insulting someone in public could result in arrest.”
Sexuality and other social problems
In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal, according to the State Department.
“Advocates say that LGBTQ people in Qatar are subjected to conversion therapy, harassment by authorities, and imprisonment,” according to NPR’s Becky Sullivan in her summary of the issues that have been raised about the host nation.
These revelations have stoked uproar, and authorities’ treatment of LGBTQ supporters and symbols will be closely watched.
The Library of Congress reported, quoting Qatari legislation, that foreigners may also be subject to severe penalties for “indecent behavior including the act of sexual intercourse outside of marriage.”
For anyone found to have engaged in “immoral” behavior in public, the penalties can vary from a fine or six months in jail to up to 7 years in prison for having sex outside of marriage. According to the Library of Congress, public indiscretion can potentially result in a term of up to three years in prison.
The State Department advised expecting fans traveling to Qatar for the World Cup to be ready to present a marriage certificate if they require prenatal care there.
Despite the heat, fans must wear full clothes.
The competition was forced to transfer from the summer to November and December due to the extreme heat in Qatar, however, visitors should be careful how much skin they expose.
According to the State Department, many public spaces have dress standards that mandate that “both men and women cover shoulders, chests, stomachs, and knees, and those tight leggings be covered by a long shirt or dress.”
The same as with alcohol, a neighborhood or venue’s dress code may change depending on how many foreigners it attracts.