Mon. Nov 21st, 2022

‘NO ALCOHOL IS NOT GOOD’ | A football fan at the Fifa Fan Festival, where drinking is allowed outside the World Cup stadium in Doha. (REUTERS)

DOHA – Football fans enjoyed their first sip of beer at the launch of a fan festival where they can drink alcohol at this year’s Fifa World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday.

This is the first time in a conservative Muslim country where the sport’s most prestigious event, alcohol, which is prohibited in public, is strictly regulated.

Qatar and FIFA are hoping that attention will move on the ground after facing growing criticism over foreign workers’ rights, LGBT rights, and other restrictions, such as bans on public displays of affection.

Amid these rules, Denmark and Germany team captains will wear One Love armbands, their teams said.

As of this report, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the presidents of Egypt and Algeria were among the regional leaders expected to attend, perhaps as a show of Arab solidarity. The United Nations Secretary-General was also in Doha.

On stage, South Korean singer Jung Kook from K-pop group BTS will be performing the new official tournament song “Dreamers” along with Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.

‘Party of the world’

In a last-minute U-turn before the opening game on Friday, FIFA said that no alcoholic beer will be sold in Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.

Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, was set to sell beer exclusively in the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game during the month-long event.

Now, fans can only drink beer at the FIFA Fan Festival, but alcoholic beverages continue to be available in the stadium’s reception areas.

A Mexican fan in a fedora, with his country’s tricolor flag slung over his shoulders, was balancing a cardboard drink holder containing four beers as he joined a citizens’ group hosting the FIFA Fan Festival, which kicked off on the eve of 2018 in Al Bidda Park in Doha. games.

“No alcohol is not good because the World Cup [is the] “Party of the world,” said Brazilian fan Julio Cesar, wearing a fedora in his country’s colors.

For fans not impressed by Qatar’s serious rights record, the lack of beer in the World Cup venues has been a huge disappointment.

“It’s hard to say whether what happened in Qatar is true,” says Guilherme, 41, another Brazilian fan. “My only problem is that alcohol is banned.”

Argentine fan Julio Cesar from Buenos Aires said he expected a great atmosphere when he arrived in Doha. “Even if we don’t have beer to drink before the game,” he said.

from the edge

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers, all male, gathered to watch the games on a sports field in an industrial area on the outskirts of the city, although alcohol is not served.

Most of those who worked to prepare the tournament infrastructure will watch from the sidelines. Doha has been criticized for its treatment of migrant workers, but points to labor reforms against exploitation.

The event was held at a cost of $220 billion, making it the most expensive in World Cup history.

Security guard Ghanaian Kasım, who has been working in Qatar for 4 years, said that he did not buy a ticket.

“They’re expensive and I have to use that money for other things, like sending it home to my family,” he said.

But Kenyan Neville, 24, and his compatriot Willy, also a 24-year-old Manchester City supporter, were able to watch the games as they were hired as security guards for the event.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Neville said.

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