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Qatar warns World Cup fans over sneaking alcohol into country

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Fans travelling to the 2022 World Cup will not be able to take alcohol for personal consumption into Qatar, with the head of the country’s Safety and Security Committee saying that “specific measures” are in place to take action against anyone attempting to smuggle drinks in their luggage.

Although alcohol is strictly restricted in Qatar — drinking in public can lead to fines of up to 3,000 Riyal (£720) or prison sentences up to six months — it can be purchased inside hotels, and the Supreme Committee in charge of the tournament has agreed to make beer — provided by World Cup sponsors Budweiser — available at stadiums and in fan zones during the World Cup, which begins on Nov. 20.

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High consumption of alcohol during the early stages of Russia 2018 led to some bars in Moscow running out of beer as fans from across the world partied in the Russian capital.

But despite football fan culture in many regions of the world involving alcohol consumption before, during and after games, the Qatari authorities have said that alcohol availability will be limited to designated areas only and fans will not be allowed to bring their own booze.

“There are specific measures,” Colonel Jassim Abdulrahim Al Sayed of the Safety and Security Operations Committee told ESPN at a news conference in Doha. “I think alcohol will not allowed through the airport and suitcases.

“There are locations where alcohol will be sold throughout the country.”

The main Fanfest at the tournament will only serve alcohol after 6.30 p.m., despite some games kicking off earlier in the day.

But Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser Al Khater has urged fans to consume alcohol in the specific areas that have been given permission to serve drinks.

“There is a misconception about alcohol sales in stadiums and designated zones,” Al Khater said. “We are working like any other World Cup, like usual.

“Very simply, we have always stated that the sale of alcohol available in Qatar and will make it available in specific zones.

“The Fanfest will serve from 6.30pm, but it will attract a lot of families and children and we want to give them opportunity to be in alcohol free zone for certain parts of the day. Later, the fans will have alcohol readily available.”

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