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EXCLUSIVE World Cup stadium bleachers to be alcohol-free under Qatar sidewalks: source

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DOHA, July 7 (Reuters) – The stands of Qatar’s World Cup stadium will be alcohol-free, with beer sales outside the stadiums only allowed before and after some matches, a source with knowledge of the officials said. plans for the soccer tournament.

This year’s World Cup is the first to be held in a Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, presenting unique challenges for organizers of an event often associated with fanatical beer drinking and sponsored by global beer brands.

“In the stadiums, the plans are still being finalized, but the current discussion is to allow fans to drink beer when arriving and leaving the stadium, but no beer will be served during the match or inside the bowl of the stadium,” the source said. to Reuters. .

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A document dated June 2 and seen by Reuters gives a first glimpse of how organizers plan to handle the demands of some 1.2 million soccer fans, many of whom are used to drinking unlimited beer on football days. match.

Football’s relationship with alcohol has long been complicated and in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, Brazil lifted its ban on alcohol in stadiums, following pressure from governing body FIFA.

There has been a question mark over alcohol at this year’s tournament ever since the Persian Gulf state won the hosting rights in 2010. While not a “dry” state like neighboring Saudi Arabia, consuming alcohol in public places It is illegal in Qatar.

However, fans at the World Cup in November will also be able to buy beer during restricted hours in certain parts of the main FIFA fan zone at Al Bidda Park in Doha, the Qatari capital.

“Unlike previous World Cup fan zones, the beer will not be served throughout the day, but rather at restricted times,” the source added.

Alcohol will also be available to 15,000 to 20,000 fans in a disused corner of the Doha Golf Club, a few kilometers from the stadiums and the main fan zone, the document shows.

In addition, a sandy plot of land surrounded by a 10-foot wall and located between a hotel delivery entrance and a district cooling plant will be transformed into a 10,000-capacity venue that promises Techno music and alcohol, the document shows.

A spokesman for the organisers, the Supreme Committee for the Delivery and Legacy of Qatar, said that they together with FIFA will announce plans on the availability of alcohol at the 28-day tournament “in due course”.

“Alcohol is already available in designated areas in Qatar, such as hotels and bars, and this will not change in 2022. In order to cater to visiting fans in 2022, alcohol will be available in additional designated areas during the tournament,” he said. he said the spokesman.

‘FAMILY FRIEND’

Although FIFA’s website advertises free-flowing “beers, champagne, sommelier-selected wines and premium spirits” in the stadiums’ VIP hospitality suites, no alcohol was sold in the stadiums in December during a test event. for the World Cup.

Visitors are prohibited from bringing alcohol into Qatar, even from the airport duty-free, and cannot shop at the country’s only liquor store, on the outskirts of Doha, where foreign residents with permits can shop for domestic consumption.

Visitors to Qatar can purchase alcohol at a handful of licensed hotels and clubs, where a pint of beer can cost $18.

The price of beer inside the fan zone and near the stadium has yet to be agreed, the source said.

Earlier this year, another source close to the discussions told Reuters that alcohol prices will be capped in fan zones, noting that at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019, a pint of beer cost around five pounds ($6.55). read more

Although the document anticipates a “strong demand for international drinks”, it says that the main party area adjacent to the FIFA fan festival will be alcohol-free, offering up to 70,000 fans a six-kilometre “family-friendly” street carnival.

The rules on the sale of alcohol in football stadiums vary around the world. In England, alcohol is sold in stadium concourses, but fans are not allowed to drink it in sight of the pitch, while in France none is allowed on stadium grounds.

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Information from Andrew Mills; Edited by Alexander Smith

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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