The biggest sporting event in the world isn’t serving any booze at its games, which led to one bloke having to walk 11 kilometres just for a pint.
Sam Greenhill documented his beer-focused voyage for the Daily Mail. He found himself in Qatar’s capital Doha when it was announced that alcohol would no longer be served in stadiums during the FIFA World Cup.
FIFA’s official statement on the beer-banning states that “the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations, and licensed venues” will still serve liquid confidence. Sam wanted to see just how hard it would be to find some piss to drink in Qatar.
Turns out it would be pretty difficult. Travelling Doha, Sam said that there was a “festival atmosphere” filled with “excited and exuberant fans from across the world”.
However, “absolutely nowhere offered a glass of beer or a glass of wine,” he wrote. So, Sam got moving, walking nearly 5 km to a ‘fan festival area’ where he found a hidden-away Budweiser tent in the corner.
“There I found about 40 brightly lit fridges containing several thousand cans of lager,” he documented. Unfortunately, he was turned away when he asked for a brewski.
“The Budweiser facility was closed until tomorrow,” a staff member told him. “It wouldn’t open until 7 pm tomorrow and I could only buy four drinks of less than a pint each.”
Determined to get some beer in him as he travelled through the 33 degrees heat, he continued his journey across Qatar, now heading to some recommended high-end hotels.
“Central Qatar is gripped by officialdom terrified by the idea that they are about to be swamped by millions of fans,” he wrote. “To manage the expected influx, at every road junction there are several people sending you on a half-mile detour.”
“Eventually I was directed to a Best Western hotel. And because I had a passport confirming me as a non-Qatari citizen, I was allowed in. After my epic trek in sweltering heat, with blistered feet for my pains, a pint of cool, refreshing lager was finally mine,” he finally said, concluding his epic saga.
Sam isn’t the only football fan finding the booze-free World Cup experience tough. AP talked to an Ecuadorian fan who said that the fan zones' huge prices and pure chaos just aren’t worth it.
“Man we’re missing the beer,” he said. “We don’t even need a lot of alcohol. But we need some.”
Another fan is distraught about the situation, telling the New York Times:
“It’s a disaster; I didn’t expect the news. It’s terrible news. It’s part of the environment of the stadium, the beer.”
Qatar is allowed to restrict or ban alcohol from stadiums if they’d like to. However, as the Football Supporters’ Association said, the quick change of mind and poor comms surrounding the issue isn’t great and are the reasons a lot of people are pissed off.
“Some fans like a beer at a game and some don’t, but the real issue is the last minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem — the total lack of communication and clarity from the organizing committee toward supporters,” the group said in a statement.
“If they can change their minds on this at a moment’s notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”