World Cup alcohol ban: Furious fans demand refunds from Qatar 2022 chiefs


Furious football fans have started demanding refunds from World Cup bosses, saying handing the tournament to Qatar has ‘ruined’ it after a shock announcement today revealed alcohol is banned from all stadiums. 

England fans already in Qatar have slammed FIFA as a ‘disgrace’ for the unexpected booze ban only 48 hours before the World Cup kicks off, adding that attending the tournament ‘feels like Big Brother’ is in charge.

Only a few hundred England fans were in Doha when FIFA announced that alcohol would not be sold on stadium concourses after coming under pressure from the Qatari Royal family.

The ban came as a shock to most fans after FIFA had previously reassured them that despite the country’s strict alcohol laws, they would be able to purchase it while enjoying the games. But those fortunate enough to be sat in corporate boxes, where tickets cost more than $22,450 each, will still be able to enjoy an array of alcoholic drinks. 

Qatar enforces an extremely strict interpretation of Islam which restricts women’s rights and criminalises members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as banning public displays of affection and public alcohol consumption. 

It is somewhat of an embarrassment for FIFA after Budweiser was announced as one of the sponsors for the tournament, and had been granted a monopoly to sell beer at the stadiums. It will now only be able to sell its alcohol-free version of beer there.

It was to sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game. 

England fans told MailOnline the tournament has been ‘ruined’ and FIFA should not have ‘given in’, complaining they would not have spent thousands of pounds on tickets and flights if they had known about the ban beforehand.

Qatar had previously promised to respect the tournament’s sponsors.

It is just the latest controversy surrounding this year’s world cup following the scandal over the deaths of more than 6,000 migrant workers while building the stadiums and the appalling state of LGBT+ rights in the country. 

Celebrities including comedian and QI star Alan Davies have been vocal critics of this year’s tournament, as Mr Davies tweeted: ‘All football stopped as a mark of respect when Her Majesty the Queen died but we carry on with the Qatar World Cup when over six thousand migrant workers are dead. No one should go there.’

Fans watching games at the World Cup will be unable to purchase any alcohol on site, instead only being able to buy it in designated Fan Zones away from stadiums

Fans watching games at the World Cup will be unable to purchase any alcohol on site, instead only being able to buy it in designated Fan Zones away from stadiums

England fans have already begun descending on Doha, although the majority are yet to arrive ahead of kick-off on Sunday

England fans have already begun descending on Doha, although the majority are yet to arrive ahead of kick-off on Sunday

Football fans told MailOnline they would 'probably have gone home' following the announcement if it wasn't for the thousands of pounds they had spent on the trip

Football fans told MailOnline they would ‘probably have gone home’ following the announcement if it wasn’t for the thousands of pounds they had spent on the trip

Empty Budweiser stands, which would have sold beer to fans before and after matches, now stand empty and will only be able to sell Bud Zero instead

Empty Budweiser stands, which would have sold beer to fans before and after matches, now stand empty and will only be able to sell Bud Zero instead

Budweiser refrigerators which would have held its beers are pictured at one of Doha's stadiums, and are likely to now remain empty

Budweiser refrigerators which would have held its beers are pictured at one of Doha’s stadiums, and are likely to now remain empty

Budweiser is a major sponsor of the World Cup in Qatar, but no longer has its agreed monopoly on sales of alcohol in and around stadiums

Budweiser is a major sponsor of the World Cup in Qatar, but no longer has its agreed monopoly on sales of alcohol in and around stadiums

South Korea's Son Heung-min stands in front of a Budweiser advertisement board during training today, as the sponsor learned it would no longer be able to sell alcohol around stadiums in Doha

South Korea’s Son Heung-min stands in front of a Budweiser advertisement board during training today, as the sponsor learned it would no longer be able to sell alcohol around stadiums in Doha

The fan festival, where pints cost £12 each, is now one of the few places in the whole of Doha where visiting fans can buy alcohol

The fan festival, where pints cost £12 each, is now one of the few places in the whole of Doha where visiting fans can buy alcohol

A Budweiser beer stand at the Fan Festival ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, one of the few places fans can now access alcohol

A Budweiser beer stand at the Fan Festival ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, one of the few places fans can now access alcohol

Budweiser - one of the World Cup's largest sponsors - tried to make light of the situation in a now-deleted tweet

Budweiser – one of the World Cup’s largest sponsors – tried to make light of the situation in a now-deleted tweet

The Portuguese football team arrive in Doha on Friday night ahead of the start of the World Cup tournament on Sunday

The Portuguese football team arrive in Doha on Friday night ahead of the start of the World Cup tournament on Sunday

Christiano Ronaldo disembarks from his team plane after touching down in Doha, Qatar for the tournament

Christiano Ronaldo disembarks from his team plane after touching down in Doha, Qatar for the tournament

Despite being embroiled in scandal in the Premier League, Ronaldo looked cheerful upon his arrival

Despite being embroiled in scandal in the Premier League, Ronaldo looked cheerful upon his arrival

The news also came just hours before tournament hopes Portugal, including star Christiano Ronaldo, landed in Doha on Friday evening.

Ronaldo is reportedly under threat of getting the sack from Manchester United for breach of contract after he gave an extensive interview to Piers Morgan criticising the club. 

But despite claiming the club ‘betrayed’ him after he was relegated to the bench by manager Erik ten Hag, Ronaldo appeared in cheerful spirits as he stepped off the plane in Qatar. 

After the announcement, a cheeky tweet was posted to Budweiser’s Twitter account saying ‘well, this is awkward…’ before it was deleted.

Budweiser’s owners Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewing giant which owns Bud and dozens of other beer brands, said it is still looking forward to ‘celebrating football with our consumers’ but some sales cannot go ahead due to ‘circumstances beyond our control’. 

InBev made no mention of possible legal action over the $75million deal it holds with Fifa, which gives it exclusive rights to sell beer at World Cup games. Doha could also be facing legal action, having signed contracts agreeing to ‘respect Fifa’s sponsors’.

Qatar is a typically teetotal nation where tourists can only buy or consume alcohol inside licenced hotels or restaurants. Exemptions for the World Cup would have meant fans were able to buy beers in special ‘fan zones’ or on stadium concourses.

But Qatar seems to have reneged on part of that deal, meaning beer can now only be sold only inside the ‘fan zones’. 

Pints will cost £12, only be available at certain times, and each person will be limited to a maximum of four to stop them getting drunk.

Anyone who does get drunk risks being sent to special areas by Qatari officials until they sober up. 

Yet those who can afford the £19,000 to higher an executive box will benefit from complimentary alcohol, it has been confirmed.

Many social media users posted online accusing the nation of ‘hypocrisy’. One wrote: ‘Look it’s really simple. 

‘Alcohol has been banned from the stadiums in Qatar because it goes against the country’s cultural and religious beliefs, unless you’re spending £19k on an executive box. Then it’s absolutely fine.’ 

Fans on the ground in Doha were left devastated on Friday night. Farmer Dylan Smith, 18, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, whose 12-year-old niece Ruby has been chosen to carry the ball onto the pitch at a World Cup semi-final, said: ‘It’s a bit unfair.

‘I’m a West Brom fan and like to have a couple before matches with my mates in England.

‘I need one when I’m watching them right now.

‘I can see why they have done it. If there was alcohol it could kick off – particularly with England playing Wales.

‘But to say one thing then change it so close to the start of the tournament doesn’t seem fair.’

His uncle Nick Bjorkhammer 45, a scientist who works in a children’s hospital in Doha, said: ‘I think they’re a bit scared of something happening and it tainting the view of Qatar.

‘Obviously they should have said the principle from the start.

‘There are powerful people here who have made that decision and everyone has to abide by it.’

Tom Williams, 24 from Birmingham cried: ‘I’ve spent £5000 on this trip and if I’d known I wouldn’t be able to get a drink at the game I wouldn’t have come.

‘FIFA should be ashamed of themselves. Millions of people are coming from all over the world and they’ve already ruined the start of the tournament for us.’

BBC staff handed guide to evade tricky questions while in Doha 

Top BBC stars in Qatar have been handed a ‘cheat sheet’ on how to answer tricky questions over the World Cup host country due to the highly contentious issues including human rights abuses and allegations of slave labour. 

In guidance sent to its presenters and commentators, the broadcaster says it will address the controversy in its coverage but its big names are not obliged to do so in interviews. 

They are advised to get around questions about Qatar’s record on human rights and workers’ rights by explaining that they are there to focus on the football while pointing to the BBC’s highlighting of these issues elsewhere. 

The BBC insists that if any of the stars wish to talk the issues in Qatar, they are free to do so. Some, including lead tournament presenter Gary Lineker, already have – he has openly called the World Cup ‘corrupt’.  

Lineker is said to want the first programme to resemble a ‘mini-Panorama’ after working with human rights organisation Amnesty International. The BBC hopes it will set the tone for its coverage of the tournament.

In one sample question and answer contained on the cheat sheet, staff are advised how to respond on a question about migrant worker deaths. 

The answer reads: ‘The World Cup is happening in Qatar regardless of whether or not I attend. My role is to report on the football for the BBC where we will, of course, address topical issues relating to the tournament as part of our coverage.’ 

IT consultant Fitzroy Lindo, 32 from Manchester said: ‘I’m fed up with this World Cup already. Everything is very expensive and now you can’t even get a beer at the game.

‘This tournament feels like Big Brother telling us what to do. FIFA shouldn’t have given in to the Qataris and banned booze.’

Katie Miller, 25, a trainee accountant in Essex said: ‘It cost me about £4000 for tickets and flights with my boyfriend. We’re making every effort to respect the local culture but the Qataris should also respect our culture when we’re at games.

‘We like a beer at the football – what’s wrong with that? If I hadn’t spent all this money I’d have probably gone home.’

Brian Davidson, the first fan in Qatar to drink an official World Cup beer said: ‘I’m devastated, it doesn’t make sense. What’s wrong with having a beer at a match? 

‘Beer wasn’t going to be sold inside the stadiums anyhow, just on the concourse.

‘Millions of people are coming from all over the world and they just want to watch football, enjoy the sun and knock back a few beers. 

‘I’ll just have to go to the Fan Zones or a hotel for a drink but it’s a real pity that the Qataris have implemented this ban.’ 

Football fans found drunk in the street could find themselves being jailed or hit with hefty fines. 

Drinking alcohol in public spaces is banned under the country’s strict rules and could result in those caught being jailed for six months. Other punishments previously dished out by the regime include public lashings.

Some football fans have been criticised by others on social media for appearing to care more about the beer ban than the persecution of women and LGBT+ people in the country. 

But England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale told a press conference today: ‘I think the fans will find some way of having a beer, I don’t think you need to do it so much at the game.

‘Hopefully with them not able to drink we can perform on the pitch to give them that sort of excitement and buzz.’

Budweiser has produced thousands of cans of beer featuring the world cup trophy, but will now not be able to sell them at any football games

Budweiser has produced thousands of cans of beer featuring the world cup trophy, but will now not be able to sell them at any football games

FIFA has announced that beer sales will be banned from stadiums during the Qatar World Cup, meaning the only place to buy one will be at 'fan zones' (pictured), hotels and restaurants

Fifa has announced that beer sales will be banned from stadiums during the Qatar World Cup, meaning the only place to buy one will be at ‘fan zones’ (pictured), hotels and restaurants

A fan is handed the first beer served at the 2022 Qatar World Cup at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha's Al Bidda Park, before sales at stadiums were banned

A fan is handed the first beer served at the 2022 Qatar World Cup at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha’s Al Bidda Park, before sales at stadiums were banned

England fans heading off to Qatar for the tournament joked about buying their last pint for less than £10 until the contest is over

England fans heading off to Qatar for the tournament joked about buying their last pint for less than £10 until the contest is over

England fans in Doha Kevin Fulcher (left) and Kevin Hall (right). Mr Hall said of Qatar's booze ban: ‘It is the custom here. You have to accept it'

England fans in Doha Kevin Fulcher (left) and Kevin Hall (right). Mr Hall said of Qatar’s booze ban: ‘It is the custom here. You have to accept it’

Where CAN fans get a beer as alcohol is banned at stadiums? 

Qatar’s strict interpretation of Islam means alcohol cannot be brought into the country, consumed in public, or bought outside of licenced venues.

So, where can fans in Qatar get a drink? 

Fan zones

Dedicated zones set up for supporters to watch games have been given special dispensation to sell alcohol – but there are restrictions.

Alcohol will only be served at certain times, and each person will be limited to four drinks to stop them from getting drunk.

Anyone who does get drunk may be escorted away to sober up.

The price of a pint will be around £12.

Hotels and restaurants 

Qatari law does allow some licenced hotels and restaurants to sell alcohol to tourists, which will continue throughout the World Cup.

However, spaces are limited and prices may be extortionate.

One ‘drink deal’ at a venue describing itself as ‘Qatar’s best sport bar’ would see people pay up to £80 per pint.

Hospitality boxes

While regular ticket holders won’t be able to get alcohol near the stadiums, that is not true of hospitality boxes.

Those with enough money to fork out for a ‘private suite’ – starting at $22,450 – will have access to soft drinks, beers, Champagne, sommelier-selected wines, and premium spirits.

FIFA said: ‘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. 

‘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 [Budweiser’s] understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the World Cup.’ 

FIFA had already made one concession this week to the Qatari hosts on the availability of Budweiser in stadiums.

Organisers insisted the Budweiser concession stands were too noticeable, so FIFA agreed to move them into positions where they would be less visible. Such changes are highly unusual so close to the start of a tournament.

It is just the latest controversy to plague an already fraught World Cup – the first to be held in a Muslim nation – which has thrown football’s governing ethos and traditional trappings into conflict with the hosts’ conservative interpretation of Islam.

Public displays of affection are banned in the country and homosexuality remains illegal.

Western figures have been heavily criticised for agreeing to work with Qatar for the tournament, most noticeably David Beckham who has become the face of the World Cup.

He signed a reported-£10million deal with the Qataris and filmed multiple promotional videos, including with one Qatari woman who later told MailOnline that being gay is ‘against human nature’ and compared members of the LGBTQ+ community to animals.

This week, UK comedian Joe Lycett challenged Beckham to cease his dealings with the country, threatening to shred £10,000 of his own money on livestream to represent the cost of the deal if he did not do so. 

Just three months ago, FIFA also agreed to move the starting date of the tournament a day earlier so the hosts will be playing in the only match on that day. Qatar v Ecuador will now be played on November 20.

The only place alcohol can now be bought in or around stadiums will be in the hospitality boxes, which start at $22,450 per match. 

Those lucky enough to get a seat in a box are promised ‘soft drinks, beers, Champagne, sommelier-selected wines, and premium spirits’ both ‘before, during and after’ the game.

The sale of alcohol is hardly the only controversy that has plagued the Qatar World Cup, which is being played in the winter because summer temperatures in the desert nation frequently top 40C.

Airport beer

Airport beer

England fans were posting photos of their final beers at the airport for flying out to Qatar, where they will now struggle to get hold of a pint

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani (right, facing camera), president of the Qatar Football Association, stands by a Budweiser hoarding at a training session

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani (right, facing camera), president of the Qatar Football Association, stands by a Budweiser hoarding at a training session

Qatar had initially agreed to sell beer outside stadiums (Budweiser tents pictured, foreground) but reneged on that agreement today

Qatar had initially agreed to sell beer outside stadiums (Budweiser tents pictured, foreground) but reneged on that agreement today 

Heat will still be intense, even in winter, with daytime temperatures hovering around 30C with punishing humidity.

Wales have already shifted their training sessions from 1.30pm until 4pm because players were struggling. The latest matches in Qatar will kick off around 10pm local time when it will be cooler, but some of the earlier games will be played in scorching 1pm heat.

Qatar is also facing serious allegations of abuse of migrant workers – many of whom are thought to have died in the heat – who built the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure to cope with more than one million fans descending on a country with a regular population of just 300,000.

Officially, Doha says just three deaths are directly attributable to the construction project. But human rights groups say the figure stands at around 6,500.

Workers from some of the world’s most impoverished countries have reported being paid just pence per day for their work, while Qatar has also been accused of using North Korean slave labour for some of the projects. 

Sepp Blatter, Fifa’s former boss who was forced to resign shortly after the Qatar World Cup was announced amid a corruption scandal, has even admitted the tournament was a ‘mistake’.

He highlighted a separate issue – the size of the host nation – saying the country was simply not big enough to handle the spectacle that is the world’s premiere sporting tournament.

The Qatar peninsula, which juts out from the east coast of Saudi Arabia, is just 115 miles long – roughly the distance from London to Bristol. The drive from east to west coasts takes less than an hour. 

The run-up to the tournament has also been plagued with problems, often connected to the conservative attitudes of the country’s Muslim rulers. 

Earlier this month, it was reported a Qatar World Cup ambassador has told German television broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality is a ‘damage in the mind’.

In an interview filmed in Doha, former Qatari international Khalid Salman addressed the issue of homosexuality, which is illegal in the country, and can still technically be punished by death.

The shock move - which comes just 48 hours before the tournament begins - was reportedly made after the brother of Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (pictured) intervened

The shock move – which comes just 48 hours before the tournament begins – was reportedly made after the brother of Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (pictured) intervened

Fifa have written a letter asking the footballing world to focus on the game at the World Cup rather than off-field issues which has led to criticism for president Gianni Infantino

Fifa have written a letter asking the footballing world to focus on the game at the World Cup rather than off-field issues which has led to criticism for president Gianni Infantino

Concerns have been raised over how Qatar manages its vast population of migrant workers

The tournament has been engulfed in controversy over human rights issues in Qatar

England will wear armbands with the words 'One Love' etched across them at the tournament

England will wear armbands with the words ‘One Love’ etched across them at the tournament 

SCOTLAND’S ONLY OPENLY GAY FOOTBALLER CONDEMNS QATAR WORLD CUP AMBASSADOR

Zander Murray has condemned a Qatar World Cup ambassador for 'hurtful' comments

Zander Murray has condemned a Qatar World Cup ambassador for ‘hurtful’ comments

The first openly gay Scottish footballer has condemned comments by a Qatar World Cup ambassador branding homosexuality ‘damage of the mind’.

Gala Fairydean Rovers striker Zander Murray decided to go public on his sexuality with an announcement on the Lowland League side’s website back in September.

Compelled to speak out after accepting a role as a sports champion for lobby group Stonewall, the 31-year-old says he was ‘hurt and upset’ by remarks from former Qatar international Khalid Salman, and has called on others to speak out on the issue in the hope it might apply pressure on the Gulf state.

‘I am now an openly gay footballer,’ Murray told Sportsmail. ‘And, of course, you feel hurt and upset by comments like that.

‘Since I went public, the reaction has been so positive from the across the UK. That’s why, when I heard those comments, I felt deeply hurt by them.

‘I can’t change who I am and the laws in Qatar are directly attacking people like me.

‘For years, I have tried to be someone else and pretend I am not gay and it created havoc with my life. Now I am being my true organic self, I can’t fail to be hurt by what’s being said there.’

 

Some football players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the event, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, whom rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against. 

The country expects around 1.5 million visitors for the World Cup.

‘They have to accept our rules here,’ Salman said, in an excerpt of the interview. 

‘(Homosexuality) is haram. You know what haram (forbidden) means?’ he said.

When asked why it was haram, Salman said: ‘I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.’

The interview was then immediately stopped by an accompanying official. Qatar’s World Cup organisers, when contacted by Reuters, declined to comment.

World football’s ruling body FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Organisers have repeatedly said everyone is welcome in Qatar during the World Cup.

The country’s human rights record has led to calls for teams and officials to boycott the November 20 – December 18 tournament. 

Earlier this month FIFA came under scrutiny after Sky News got hold of a letter that the governing body had circulated around the federations heading to Qatar. 

‘Please, let’s now focus on the football!’ Infantino and FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura wrote to the 32 nations due to compete.

‘We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.

‘But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.’

England and Wales – among a host of other nations – plan to wear rainbow armbands at the tournament with the words ‘One Love’ etched across them.

Qatar World Cup chief executive Nasser Al Khater last month said that gay supporters were welcome in the country but once again warned of the nation’s differing cultural norms. 

‘Everyone will feel safe in Qatar,’ Al-Khater told Sky News.

‘We have always said that everyone is welcome here. What we ask for is respect for our culture.’

A two-hour queue and £12 a pint, but Californian delivery driver becomes the first football fan to drink an official World Cup beer in Qatar (and he says it’s worth every penny!)

by VIVEK CHAUDHARY and SHEKHAR BHATIA in Doha for MailOnline 

A delivery driver from California became the first fan to drink an official World Cup beer in Qatar as alcohol made its debut at the tournament.

Brian Davidson, 45, was served a pint of Budweiser at precisely 7pm on Wednesday in the largest fan zone of the World Cup in central Doha, which opened for the first time amid wild celebrations.

He paid £12 for the honour of downing the first pint and waited almost two hours in a winding queue for the privilege.

Moments after supping his pint, Mr Davidson, who was at the head of a queue which had grown to almost 500 by the time bars opened told MailOnline: ‘This is a historic World Cup moment and this feels like the best beer I’ve ever had in my life. I’m going to finish it off as quickly as I can and then have another one.

‘It’s worth every cent. You might think the beer’s expensive but that’s what you have to pay at major international sports tournaments. I have come all this way. My big worry was that there wouldn’t be any beer at all so I don’t mind paying a bit more.

‘I was a bit concerned about the alcohol restrictions before I came to Qatar but I have to say all the worry and the wait was worth it. It feels great to be the first fan to have a beer at this tournament. I feel like Pele or Maradona-a World Cup history maker.’

Californian delivery driver Brian Davidson (pictured), 45, was the first fan to drink an official World Cup beer in Qatar after he was served a pint of Budweiser at precisely 7pm

Californian delivery driver Brian Davidson (pictured), 45, was the first fan to drink an official World Cup beer in Qatar after he was served a pint of Budweiser at precisely 7pm

'This is a historic World Cup moment and this feels like the best beer I've ever had in my life', Mr Davidson told MailOnline after downing his £12 pint

‘This is a historic World Cup moment and this feels like the best beer I’ve ever had in my life’, Mr Davidson told MailOnline after downing his £12 pint

Mr Davidson was served his beer at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha’s Al Bidda Park which will be open every day of the tournament and can accommodate up to 40,000 fans.

He revealed that he had only arrived from his home in San Jose, California on Wednesday morning and decided to go to the opening of the Fan Festival so that he could get a pint after discovering that it was going on sale.

He added: ‘When I got here there was nobody waiting at the bar so I thought why not stick around and make sure I’m first in the queue and have the first pint of the 2022 World Cup. It’ll be something to tell the grandchildren.’

As excitement built up ahead of the 7pm bar opening time, fans shouted and hollered as staff initiated a countdown to the moment.

'When I got here there was nobody waiting at the bar so I thought why not stick around and make sure I'm first in the queue and have the first pint of the 2022,' said Mr Davidson

‘When I got here there was nobody waiting at the bar so I thought why not stick around and make sure I’m first in the queue and have the first pint of the 2022,’ said Mr Davidson

Nektatios Kassotakis, manager of the area serving alcohol within the fan zone told MailOnline that 48,000 cans of Budweiser had been stocked in fridges for the opening night and that another 500,000 were in stock for the remainder of the tournament.

He gushed: ‘I feel very proud to be the head of this section that is offering alcohol at a tournament where it has been a big issue. It’s a great honour and we will make sure that we will serve the alcohol responsibly.

‘I know this is a Muslim country with strict laws on alcohol but it’s great that fans from all the over the world will be able to enjoy a drink while they watch games in the fan zones. Football and beer are like love and marriage-they go together.’

Mr Kassotakis, who has travelled from Greece to manage the beer operation in Qatar’s largest fan zone added: ‘We’ve got a lot of beer in stock. I’m hoping that by the end of the World Cup it will all be finished and everyone will have had a great time.

‘But we’ve also got a lot of security around to make sure fans behave themselves.’

Fans will only be permitted to buy four pints at a time. Non-alcoholic beer is also available at £10 per pint.

Qatar has strict Islamic laws in place over the sale and consumption of alcohol, which were planning to be relaxed for the World Cup.

Nektatios Kassotakis (pictured), manager of the area serving alcohol within the fan zone told MailOnline that 48,000 cans of Budweiser had been stocked in fridges for the opening night and that another 500,000 were in stock

Nektatios Kassotakis (pictured), manager of the area serving alcohol within the fan zone told MailOnline that 48,000 cans of Budweiser had been stocked in fridges for the opening night and that another 500,000 were in stock

Once the World Cup kicks off beer will only be available in fan zones like the one in Al Bidda after 6.30pm and drunk fans will be sent to special zones to sober up.

Budweiser is one of FIFA’s most lucrative sponsors and has the exclusive right to sell beer at World Cup matches.

But despite the joy of fans and being able to knock back a pint many were dismayed by the price of food and drink in the fan zone.

Burgers were on sale at £12, a chicken sandwich £8 while nachos were going for £8.

Switzerland fan Marion Spichticg moaned: ‘The beer is very expensive and so is the food. I’m going to a few games and will come back to this fan zone because it’s been great fun. But I don’t think I’ll be drinking and eating much when I’m here.’

Thousands attended the opening of the Fan Zone, which has a large stage, dazzling lights and a variety of football related activities. They were also treated to a DJ spinning a series of Arabic and Western tunes and Michael Jackson tribute show.

The alcohol area was tucked away in a corner of the Fan Zone, around 100 metres from the main stage. The only break in proceedings was when it was announced that there would be a pause for evening prayers.

MARTIN SAMUEL: FIFA fools took the World Cup to Qatar and now expect it not to be Qatari! Other countries find our drinking culture objectionable and they have a point… PLUS, there’s no conspiracy over Ivan Toney’s England exclusion

by MARTIN SAMUEL for the Daily Mail 

At the Westin Hotel on Awaji island, near Kobe, Japan, Sven Goran Eriksson surveyed the players’ recreation room.

There were 23 individual, state-of-the-art games consoles, one for each member of the squad, a pool table, an air-hockey table, three games of table football, plus table tennis. Next door was a cinema and space for the 23 additional laptops that each player had received, along with a Walkman, a CD player and a mobile phone.

This, it was hoped, would keep restless minds active on their way to the inevitable quarter-final exit. Eriksson turned to the Football Association official by his side. ‘Why can’t they just read a book?’ he wondered.

Sven-Goran Eriksson once asked why England stars needed technology to be entertained

Sven-Goran Eriksson once asked why England stars needed technology to be entertained

Qatar will have similar thoughts about our drinking culture during the winter World Cup

Qatar will have similar thoughts about our drinking culture during the winter World Cup

We could of course argue, knowing what we know now, that the FA man might have asked Sven the same question – but that’s another story.

The point is this. There will be officials in Qatar this morning who will be thinking the same about us. Not the England players specifically, but those who follow them. Why are we always so thirsty? Why is it almost unthinkable that anyone might want to watch a football match sober?

All this controversy about alcohol availability, alcohol prices, where to get it, when to get it, how long does the bar stay open? We don’t sound very smart. It seems we are only here for the beer.

We discuss the Gulf regions in terms of liberty and freedom, and understandably so, but with that comes a presumption that they must want what we have. And it isn’t true. The drinking culture that we regard as part of the matchday experience other countries find bemusing, even objectionable.

They have a point. Nobody who was at Wembley for England’s European Championship final would consider what transpired that day desirable. It was horrible, violent, threatening, boorish and in many ways utterly predictable.

The drinking culture that we consider essential on these shores is not the same out in Qatar

The drinking culture that we consider essential on these shores is not the same out in Qatar

And the Middle East country could use last year's Euro 2020 final disgrace as a reason why

And the Middle East country could use last year’s Euro 2020 final disgrace as a reason why

There has been controversy surrounding the accessibility and pricing of beer at the World Cup

There has been controversy surrounding the accessibility and pricing of beer at the World Cup

The only shock, really, is that UEFA appear prepared to risk more of the same in 2028. Yet if Qatar had used footage of that day to support an argument for tightening the laws on alcohol consumption rather than loosening them during the tournament, who could really blame them?

Instead, they have taken the route of broken promises. Beer was going to be cheap but it’s not, it’s expensive – around £11.60 for a pint of Budweiser (suggested marketing tagline: Not Quite The Worst Beer In The World, Because That’s Fosters.)

And it was going to be plentiful – except it isn’t because licensed hours will be strictly controlled, sales outlets limited and around the stadium sites largely hidden.

The hosts do not like beer drinkers so they are not making it easy for them. And those hosts who were ready to compromise appear to have been crushed further down the line by the Supreme Committee. In the Gulf there is always a Supreme Committee. It is why it is often difficult to get event business done.

Budweiser will have been given encouragement by organisers whose priority is delivering a successful tournament, but those agreements will have to be written off by Supreme Committee members with an entirely different concept of success.

Beer partners Budweiser were welcomed in one breath and then told to hold fire in the next

Beer partners Budweiser were welcomed in one breath and then told to hold fire in the next

Budweiser at one stage had a tanker moored outside Doha awaiting permission to deliver almost a third of its supply. They were being welcomed in one breath, told to wait in the next. Budweiser have jumped through hoops just to get to where they are in Qatar now.

Hence the mealy-mouthed statement released earlier this week. ‘Budweiser is proud to be served in compliance with the local rules and regulations by FIFA’s appointed concessionaire.’ And as we all know, ain’t no party like a FIFA-appointed concessionaire party.

The bottom line problem is that FIFA took a World Cup to Qatar and then expected Qatar not to let it be Qatari.

To return to England’s Eriksson years, he was unveiled as manager on November 2, 2000 at Sopwell House, having flown in that morning from Rome. Standing before the media, England’s first foreign manager wore a Remembrance Day poppy. One imagines they are not in great supply in the city Mussolini called home. So the FA wanted to employ a foreign manager while affecting the illusion he was one of us.

And that is what FIFA wanted from Qatar, too. They wanted the nation’s wealth, its growing influence, and certainly its lucrative bribes, they just did not want Qatar to host a Qatari tournament.

FIFA knew what they were getting when they took Qatar's money for the 2022 tournament

FIFA knew what they were getting when they took Qatar’s money for the 2022 tournament

So why should they expect the Middle East nation to alter its core beliefs this winter?

So why should they expect the Middle East nation to alter its core beliefs this winter?

So for years they maintained the pretence of a western welcome, and western compromises and attitudes when, really, why should the hosts have to change their core beliefs? FIFA knew deep down where their World Cup was going and what they would be getting but Qatar went along with this airbrushed version of itself because, as the sign at the media centre in Doha says: ‘Now is all.’

Then, on Wednesday, when a journalist tried to take a photograph of that sign, he was asked to press delete by a security guard because this is now a Qatari World Cup and it is too late to do anything about that.

Recently, Qatar has started to flex its muscles after so much faux-compromise, which is why a beer is approaching £12, if you send out a search party and are prepared to queue.

And there is much that is Qatar’s fault, but not this. Because they don’t really want to sell you a beer, and they never wanted to sell you a beer, but it was FIFA’s price for taking their money. They thought the hosts should hold a p***-up, just without the brewery.

You will notice, however, that whatever the price of a pint, it never seems to be FIFA’s round.



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