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Thu 13 Nov 2014 11:50 AM

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Qatar looking for “creative” solution to World Cup 2022 alcohol issue

Sports Minister said organisers would look for a way to "minimise the impact on our people and tradition" but will respect FIFA rules

Qatar looking for “creative” solution to World Cup 2022 alcohol issue
(Getty Images)

Qatar’s sports minister said the Gulf state is looking to develop "creative" solutions to balance its conservative local customs with FIFA’s demand for the sale of alcohol when it hosts the FIFA World Cup in 2022, it was reported this week.

"In the hotels and many areas we have alcohol but we have also our own system that people need to respect," Qatar's Sports Minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali said in an interview with the Associated Press.

"As we bid for 2022, we will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition. I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations."

Alcohol is only sold in select hotel bars in Qatar and guests must show their passports upon entry. Residents can also, if they obtain a licence, buy alcohol from a government-managed store in Doha.

In the run up to the previous World Cup in Brazil, the South American country tried to ban alcohol sales in stadiums during the tournament but this was overruled by FIFA.

One of FIFA’s biggest sponsors is American drinks giant Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser was the "Official Beer of the FIFA World Cup" at the Brazil event.

Qatar has moved to clampdown on alcohols sales in the country in recent years. In December 2011 alcohol was suddenly banned on The Pearl development, a few months after several restaurants opened for business. Twelve of the 15 eateries served alcohol but were forced to immediately stop.

Several outlets, included famed British chef Gordon Ramsey’s Maze, closed down a short time later, claiming revenues had declined so significantly they were losing money. The number of visitors to The Pearl has significantly declined since the alcohol ban but management has refused to back down.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke in January 2012 said alcohol is a non-negotiable aspect of the World Cup and the right to sell it must be enshrined in a law.

“Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate,” Valcke said ahead of the Brazilian World Cup.

“The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law,” he added.

The sale of alcohol is strictly monitored in five of the Gulf states with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait operating outright bans on the sale and consumption of liquor.

The move to offer alcohol licenses to outlets and non-Muslims is largely a nod to the region’s expatriate workers, who vastly outnumber the local population. But the decision has been met with criticism from some citizens who oppose the sale of liquor in Muslim countries.

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Billy 5 years ago

All of this should have been sorted BEFORE Qatar was awarded the tournament. If it is a non-negotiable part of the World Cup then Qatar should just be told this is how it has to be. Deal with it since it is you who bid for and won the World Cup. You cannot pick and choose what bits of it you like and what bits you don't. The local population will just have to suck it up and write it off as one of the prices they must pay for all the kudos and PR their country will get for being the hosts.

El Presediente' 5 years ago

I think the creative solutions are as follows:

1. 'Alcoholic' fans flying in from neighboring Dubai and Bahrain for matches - its only a 50 minute flight.
2. Ships docked near Qatari shores serving booze on floating hotels
3. Sharia complaint '0% Alcohol' beers, champagne, and wines being freely available within Qatar.

Everyone's happy!

RealityCheck 5 years ago

1. 50 minutes flight, 1 hour minimum before departure, 45 minutes immigration, 50 minutes traffic jam. Repeat. Total back and forth 420 minutes, 7 hours

2. "Near" means outside Qatari territorial waters, plus boats to transfer the crowd

3. Not relevant, they can have whatever else they want. They must abide by FIFA rules and honor the agreements with the sponsors.

If you have a problem with this, very simple, do not organize it.

The Sheikh 5 years ago

why go to Dubai or Bahrain for Alcohol? while Doha already sell them alcohol and have nightclubs, supporting MB doesn't mean that you follow sharia lol. I recommend them to stay in Doha as they have the biggest church in the GCC.

who2 5 years ago

they bid, they won and on FIFA's Ts and Cs.
Yes they can be "creative".
How about moving the local population out for a month and let the party rock :)

SA1 5 years ago

What PR? the day Qatar has been awarded this "world event" the western countries has been crying babies.

The creative solution would be just to do full sale of tickets in the region and let the "Bullies" watch over the tubes from their sack...boozing and swearing.

RealityCheck 5 years ago

You mean when they bought?
Yes, because the "western countries" had no issue with Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and many other countries organizing it... but Bahrain. Oh man.

For all i care, apply your creative solution. And bring the local teams only. It is the only way they could dream of classifying