Having a drink at the football is common practice in football fandom, whether that’s on the sofa in front of the TV with mates, or from a plastic cup outside the ground on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a combination that has become a rite of passage for many lovers of the game.
Similar rituals are, of course, replicated across Europe, the Americas and the rest of the football-loving world. A standout feature of England’s journey to the World Cup semi-final in 2018, for example, was the frenetic viral celebrations captured every time they scored. More specifically, the image of several hundred beverages being launched into the air, with every goal celebrated.
The 2022 World Cup will be taking place in Qatar, an Islamic country in the Middle East. The consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam and alcohol-fuelled scenes such as those from the 2018 World Cup do not align with the host nation's own alcohol policies.
As such, travelling fans, especially those in large groups, will have to alter their behaviours in the Gulf state. Here GOAL takes a look at what kind of restrictions supporters should expect regarding alcohol consumption at Qatar 2022.
Can you drink alcohol in Qatar?
Yes, you can drink alcohol in Qatar if you are 21 years old and over. However, the country’s relationship with beers, wines, spirits, and everything in between is strict.
What are the official guidelines?
Drinking alcohol or being drunk in public is an offence in Qatar. Per the UK Government's travel advice for Qatar, "drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine up to QAR3,000."
Alcohol is only available to buy at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, while there is a permit system for expatriates living in Qatar. You should not carry alcohol in public, except when obtaining it on the day of collection.
As noted, the legal drinking age in Qatar is 21 years old and establishments which serve alcohol will ask for official photo ID upon entry.
While you are not allowed to be drunk in public in Qatar, there is likely to be a slight relaxation of the rules around the World Cup. If, however, fans take part in acts involving fireworks or flares, get into a fight or engage in any other activity that is deemed to be anti-social, they could risk a fine or even expulsion from Qatar.Getty
Will alcohol be sold in World Cup stadiums?
Alcohol will not be sold in Qatari stadiums at the World Cup. Initially, beer was to be sold and available for fans three hours before and one hour after kick-off, but not available during the games.
However, on November 18, FIFA confirmed that a decision was made to have no alcohol on sale in the stadium perimeters. Non-alcoholic beer and soft drinks will be available to buy.
"Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters," a statement from the world football governing body reads.
"There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.
"Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.
"The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."
Where else will fans be permitted to drink?
Alcohol will only be sold at fan zones, such as the 40,000-capacity FIFA Fan Festival, which takes place in Al Bidda Park, in the centre of Doha. There will be restrictions on what time of the day fans will be able to drink. It is expected that fans will need to wait until 6:30pm local time to drink alcohol in the fan zone.
Official World Cup partners Budweiser and Coca-Cola will have their products available. This fan zone will be an alcohol-tolerant area, but supporters are advised not to drink such beverages in other undesignated areas.Getty
Just outside of Doha, the Arcadia Electronic Music Festival, will serve beer for 19 hours a day between 10am and 5am.
During the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, which took place in Doha and was won by Liverpool, supporters were able to consume alcohol at a site just outside the city.
Of course, aside from these places, licensed hotel bars and restaurants would be the only standardised alternatives.
What are alcohol prices in Qatar like?
Not only will it be difficult for fans to find a venue for drinking, it will also be relatively expensive too and fans should be prepared for some eye-watering prices.
Budweiser revealed that the price of a 500ml cup of beer would be £11.60, while prices of beer and wine can range from £12 to £15 in hotels.
What have the World Cup organisers said?
Nasser Al Khater, the CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, has said: "While alcohol will be available to those who want a drink in designated areas, it will not be openly available on the streets.
"What we ask is that people, when they visit, stick to these designated areas.
"We are incredibly excited to be welcoming the world to Qatar and the Middle East and Arab world. For many people it will be their first opportunity to see and explore the region.
"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are determined to use it to its fullest."