First it was the heat, then it was the size, and now it’s getting really serious – beer.
Earlier in March, English Premier League football chairman Sir Dave Richards was in Qatar and talking about the 2022 World Cup, a tournament that the Middle Eastern nation is hosting.
“In our country and in Germany, we have a culture. We call it, ‘We would like to go for a pint,’ and that pint is a pint of beer. It’s our culture as much as your culture [in Qatar] is not drinking,” Richards said.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
“If you don’t do something about it, you are starting to bury your head in the sand because it needs addressing. You might be better off saying don’t come. But a World Cup without England, Germany, the Dutch and Scandinavians is unthinkable,” he added before famously falling in a water feature.
The chief of Qatar’s Organizing Committee Hassan Al Thawadi has confirmed that beer will indeed be available, but it remains to be seen if it will be available inside the stadium.
It’s certainly possible to buy a beer in Doha, indeed, I’ve done so himself. But sales are restricted to hotels. FIFA wants beer, or rather the beer of its sponsor Budweiser, to be available for fans at the stadium.
“All I can say is alcohol will be available – maybe not as freely available as some other countries but it will be available,” Al Thawadi said.
“What’s most important is that everybody who comes to the World Cup will be able to have a great time and experience the Arabic and Qatari culture whilst at the same time enjoying themselves,” he added.
That is the crux of the matter. Is the World Cup a place for a host country to welcome cultures from all over the planet and accommodate them as much as possible, or is it an opportunity for the international community to experience a different culture and region of the world? Or perhaps something in between?
Drinking beer certainly goes hand-in-hand with watching football in some countries, England being one of them. Still, while it’s possible to buy a beer at Premier League stadiums, it must be consumed at a bar in the concourse – you can’t just take a beer to your seat and watch the match.
Anecdotally, most fans would anyway drink beer before and after the match in pubs around the stadium – few would actually buy beer at the stadium during the game (it can get a little expensive for a start).