Qatar will restrict the availability of alcohol during the 2022 World Cup “whatever the criticism might be” if drinking contributes to violence and disorder at the games, organizers have said.
The comments came after France decided to impose a ban on alcohol sales near European Championship venues in June, following several incidents of football-related hooliganism.
Dozens of staff from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) had been shadowing Euro 2016 organizers during this time, including assistant secretary general Nasser Al-Khater.
Speaking to the Associated Press about the experience this week en route to the Rio Olympics, Al-Khater said:
“The strange thing we saw, as soon as some of the violence picked up in France, the first thing people spoke about was banning alcohol around the stadiums 24 or 48 hours before the match and during the match.
So that means there is a recognition that sometimes alcohol could relate to or encourage some sort of violence. So we need to take that into consideration to make sure the balance that we strike is right. And we want to make sure that Qatar in 2022 will be a violence free World Cup.”
He added that Qatar is reviewing all security measures to ensure there is no repeat of what happened in France.
Fans to be treated ’very gently’
There remain many questions about how Qatar, a conservative Muslim country, will manage the sale of liquor to football fans during 2022.
Organizers have previously discussed having special fan zones in which alcohol will be available for purchase.
And earlier this year, the head of the SCDL said that Qatar’s government was planning to set up special courts to deal “very gently” with drunk and rowdy fans during the tournament.
While drinking in licensed bars and clubs in Qatar is legal, getting caught drunk in public places can have serious ramifications.
However, Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi said in February:
“In relation to drunk fans it will be as it is anywhere else. Anyone who is rowdy, anyone who breaches the law, will be very gently – depending on how they react – taken care of in a manner to make sure that people are not disrupting the public order.