No booze? No problem for most fans at the World Cup in Qatar
DOHA, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Soccer fans at the almost alcohol-free World Cup are ready to pay high prices for a beer, a few have tried to smuggle booze into stadiums but most simply accept that drinking is off limits at the first tournament in a Muslim country.
World soccer governing body FIFA reversed course in mid-November, two days before the first match kicked off, and announced that no alcoholic beer would be sold at stadiums in Qatar where it is an offense to drink alcohol or be drunk in public.
While beer is available at designated World Cup fan zones and in some hotels, the hassle and the cost of finding alcohol — half a liter is sold for 50 Qatari riyalis ($13.70) in fan zones — are simply too much for many supporters from countries where beer is typically part of the match-day routine.
“For me, it’s a tradition of having a beer, watching a game, enjoying the game with friends,” said Stefan Pacquee, a Belgian doctor who traveled to Qatar from his home in Sydney, Australia, as he made his way into a stadium before Belgium’s 2-0 defeat by Morocco on Sunday.
He said he had his first beer-and-football experience aged 16 with his father.
“So I miss it. And I don’t think the Budweiser Zero is going to compensate for that. But hey, we’re here, the weather’s beautiful, it’s a great atmosphere,” Pacquee said.
Germany fan Christian Kopatsch said alcohol was often banned at