Qatari officials have banned alcohol in streets and other public places during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country's capital, Doha, organizers said Tuesday. Officials in the Gulf state are also seeking alcohol bans in World Cup stadiums during the tournament.
Alcohol will only be allowed in "far-away places," said the secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Al-Thawadi in an interview with Arabic language newspaper Al-Sharq, without clarifying further.
"There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares and public places and that is final," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
How the conservative Muslim country would deal with the question of alcohol at the tournament has long been a point of conjecture, and the latest development is not going to sit well with many foreign fans who are already disgruntled at the soccer governing body's decision to move the World Cup to winter, to avoid Doha's searing 113 °F desert summers.
While alcohol is not strictly illegal in Qatar, consumption and sales are restricted. Foreign nationals living in the country can apply for licenses allowing them to drink, and hotels are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages.
It is, however, illegal to be intoxicated outdoors, which is where the World Cup ban comes in. Qatari officials have also expressed concerns over the relationship between alcohol and soccer-related violence, as seen in the clashes between English and Russian fans in France during Euro 2016.
"We are against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and their surroundings," said Al-Thawadi, adding that Qatar would not bow to pressure to alter its laws for the tournament.