World Cup Qatar may make ‘tourist zones’ for rowdy soccer fans

You will be able to drink at the 2022 World Cup — but it will cost you.

The FIFA World Cup in the new year looms large in the oil-rich Middle Eastern peninsula, and buttoned-up locals are bracing for a huge culture clash with excitable (and notoriously badly behaved) soccer fans.

Insiders tell the Post that host country Qatar will announce that drinking beer, wine and champagne will be allowed — but only inside stadiums and newly-created “tourist zones” — and for a hefty price.

Despite the creative government measures, locals remain concerned, especially after England’s loss in the 2021 European Championship final provoked jaw-droppingly bad fan behavior.

“We do not drink. We don’t allow immodest dress, cursing, or homosexuality,” one local told the Post. “I am not sure how this is going to work with all the fans from around the world.”

Jaime Byrom, the chairman of MATCH Hospitality, the World Cup hospitality provider, told the Economic Times of India: “It is our expectation that people will be able to [drink].”

A ticket to a group-stage game in MATCH’s Pearl Lounge, a private, in-stadium suite that will likely serve booze, starts at $4,950 per person.

Pearl Lounge for World Cup
A ticket to the Pearl Lounge won’t come cheap to fans — at $4,950 per person.

As of now, tourists who want to consume alcohol have to stick to specific five-star hotels with liquor licenses where a glass of wine starts at $20, but many of these five-star hotels are already sold out for the games.

Qatar is hosting the 28-day tournament from Nov. 21 to Dec. 17, and over 1.5 million fans are expected to descend on the tiny Middle Eastern nation. 

International observers have criticized the selection of Qatar for the World cup amid allegations of vote-buying; the mistreatment and deaths of migrant construction workers in the run up to the games; and the country’s male-guardianship laws, which hold that women must ask male familial permission for many decisions in their lives. Another sticky point: Homosexuality is illegal and, according to Qatar law, punishable by imprisonment of between one and three years.

Qatar soccer fans
More than 1.5 million fans are expected to visit Qatar for the World Cup.
KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

Qatar World Cup chief executive Nasser al-Khater has said that “any fan, of any gender, [sexual] orientation, religion, race” is welcome and that “Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world.”

He added, however, that “public displays of affection are frowned upon, it’s not part of our culture — but that goes across the board to everybody.”

The capital city of Doha is still in the midst of a $300 billion building boom to accommodate thriftier fans in “zones” and “tourist villages” that will allow booze.

According to a statement from Qatar Tourism: “Qatar will have up to 130,000 available rooms … That total is made up of traditional two- to five-star hotel rooms, temporarily moored cruise ships, known as ‘floating hotels’, serviced apartments and villas, and desert camps.”

Doha Qatar
Buttoned-up locals are bracing for a culture clash with excitable soccer fans.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This month a “Host Country Portal” will launch to help fans find housing.

While prices in the thriftier hotels may be lower, the booze will remain expensive — in order to try and keep fans from getting too drunk.

But it will be hit or miss for thirsty tourists. Places like the five-star “family-friendly” resort Banana Island confirmed to the Post it is “dry” and is not changing policy for the Cup.

Doha World Cup
The Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium will be one of the facilities used for the tournament.
Qatar 2022/Supreme Committee via Getty Images

Fans hoping to bring their own duty-free booze will be out of luck — it is illegal to bring booze into the country and Doha’s two liquor stores are only allowed to sell to “licensed” customers.

Women will face more than just booze restrictions. According to the Qatar Tourism office, the suggested female dress code is “modest clothing that covers the shoulders, with skirts or shorts below the knee. Two-piece swimsuits and bikinis are [only] acceptable at private hotel beaches, private pools and spas.”

Meanwhile, men are requested to “dress in modest clothing and avoid wearing sleeveless tank tops, [T-shirts with] “controversial slogans or short trousers above the knee. Please note at public places such as hospitals and certain restaurants and cultural experiences trousers and shoes will be required.”

Nasser Al-Khater
Qatar World Cup chief executive Nasser al-Khater has called the Qatar “one of the most safe countries in the world.”
Ezgi Yurdakul

Other current rules, according to signs posted outside of stadiums, that might seem, er, foreign to foreigners are:

  • No perfumes or colognes
  • No selfie sticks
  • No horns or lasers
  • No gambling
  • No smoking
  • No political or religious signs

Qatar, Doha
Strict dress codes rules — designating where women are allowed to wear bikinis — will be enforced during the tournament.
Getty Images

It is not clear how Qatar officials will deal with rule-breaking, and where and how it would detain rule-breakers (special tourist jails?). Questions directed to the Supreme Committee Media Team on this issue by the Post went unanswered.