Inside the most controversial World Cup in history
Alcohol will be served at a lower price than hotels in special fan zones during the World Cup in Qatar and organizers are also in advanced talks on allowing beer inside all eight stadiums.
With Budweiser one of Fifa’s sponsors and alcohol so intrinsic to the pre-match ritual in many countries, Qatar is set to relax its laws during the World Cup and allow alcohol in- beyond some hotel restaurants and bars, where prices often exceed £10 (€11.65). ) a pint.
There is also an increasing likelihood of stadium sales.
Although more than one million fans are expected in Qatar during the 28-day tournament, the increase at any time is expected to be around 100,000.
“For fans who want to grab a beer before the game, there will be designated areas,” said Nasser Al Khater, General Manager of Qatar 2022. “There are fans who will expect that but, also due to “Geographically, we expect there’s a new market that culturally would like to experience the game in a different way. There will be something for all types of fans.”
Football fans have been warned of the “serious” consequences if they flout Qatar’s drug laws, but have also been assured they will be visiting one of the safest countries in the world.
More than a million fans are expected in Qatar later this year, when the capital city of Doha largely hosts supporters from 32 nations.
It is an unprecedented challenge and Qatar has long worked closely with security and police around the world, including England, where there has been a spike in disorder over the past year, including during the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, when cocaine helped fuel shameful scenes.
Al Khater said his team had studied the example of Wembley, as well as the Champions League final in Paris, where local gangs stormed various checkpoints.
He is convinced of Qatar’s ‘very comprehensive’ plans and said the prospect of any sort of black market in World Cup tickets should be all but eliminated by the Hayya Card app which will link a visa to enter Qatar to passports and individual tickets.
“You make sure that fans without tickets don’t approach the inside perimeter of the stadium,” he said.
“Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world. The crime rate is extremely low. Day one or two, fans here are going to throw all their fears out the window.
And his message on drugs? “It’s not something a major sporting event is going to tolerate. As long as the fans aren’t violent, there’s no problem but, when it comes to drug use, there is tolerance. zero.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, UK national football policing officer, explained what this means.
“Fans considering going to the World Cup should be aware that there may be serious penalties in Qatar for doing something which may not be illegal in the UK,” he said. .
“The penalties for use, trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even in residual quantities) are severe. Penalties can include long custodial sentences, heavy fines and deportation. Similar approaches will also be adopted in neighboring countries.
“We will have officers in the UK and Qatar to gather intelligence.”
Qatari officials stress, however, that they will seek a “lightweight” approach to security and stewardship, informed by observations in the country at the past two World Cups.
On an exterior wall of the iconic Lusail Stadium is a mosaic of over 6,000 faces. They are the ones who have transformed this part of the Qatari desert into the most futuristic sports stadium in the world. But the questions that continue to hang over this World Cup are clear.
Have they been exploited in an unacceptable way? And can the Qatari workers’ reforms that have been initiated now be consolidated and developed into the most important legacy of all?
The answers naturally depend on who you are talking to. Amnesty accused Fifa of “turning a blind eye” to human rights issues when it awarded Qatar the World Cup in 2010.
It indicates that “thousands of migrant workers have been exploited and many have died tragically” and calls on Fifa to reserve at least 440 million dollars (418 million euros) for migrant workers out of the 6 billion dollars expected (5, 7 billion euros) in tournament revenue, arguing that this is probably the minimum needed to cover compensation costs and initiatives to protect the rights of future workers.
Amnesty has acknowledged “significant labor reforms” in Qatar since 2017 but remains deeply concerned about their implementation.
Tamim El Abed, a Qatari who has worked in construction all his life and is a project manager at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, insists the World Cup was truly transformative.
He said: “It’s been a great way for someone like me to put pressure on the companies we work with to upgrade their systems and services.”
Qatar 2022 has consistently challenged reports of migrant worker deaths and says it uses “an internationally recognized standard of how you define a work-related death”.
Homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar, but a Fifa spokesperson said “symbols supporting LGBT-related causes”, such as rainbow flags, could be displayed inside and outside outside the stadiums.
“All fans are welcome,” said Al Khater. “When we talk about the LGBT community, that’s exactly (the message) we give to the heterosexual community. Qatar is a modest country – respect the norms, respect the culture.
In any normal World Cup year, the party was already in full swing, but Qatar’s fierce summer heat forced the tournament to be moved to winter.
It was over 40C last week and barely the 600m walk from Al Rayyan Metro Station to Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium caused a steady stream of sweat among the 10,000 Peruvians who had walked some 14 600 km to see their team face Australia in the last play-off match.
However, the temperature inside the stadium was 21°C and allowed the players to play full throttle for 120 minutes without even having a drink.
“You’re not hot at all,” said Australian midfielder Denis Genreau. “I don’t know how they do it.”
Other stadiums include Al Bayt with its traditional tent design; Stadium 974 which is made from shipping containers; Al Janoub, inspired by the sails of traditional dhows, Al Thumama in the style of a giant Middle Eastern hat and Khalifa Stadium – the only one of the eight venues that is not brand new.
It’s hard not to wonder about the tournament’s legacy in a country roughly the size of Yorkshire, but each stadium has its own plan which will involve halving capacity and being adapted to community facilities , hotels and smaller sports facilities. (© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2022)