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Qatar bans alcohol at World Cup stadiums two days before kickoff … unless you buy a $22,600 ticket

November 18, 2022
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PATRICK T. FALLON

We are now about 48 hours out from the start of the World Cup in Qatar and the rules keep changing. When initially (and controversially) selected as the venue for this year’s first-ever winter World Cup, many within FIFA were given assurances that Qatar’s strict Muslim laws would be loosened for the world’s arrival come November 2022. Now November is here and the goalposts are still moving.

Players have been warned of fines and other penalties for displaying their support for LGBTQ issues. Authorities have threatened foreign press outlets with the destruction of their cameras while filming in public areas. And now the latest twist: After initially pledging to make alcohol available in World Cup stadiums, Qatari officials have pulled the plug at the final moment, banning alcohol everywhere except a handful of dedicated FIFA Fan Festival zones.

This is huge news for fans, many of whom have already arrived in Qatar at considerable expense, spending over $200 a night to sleep in a repurposed shipping container in the desert. It’s also a massive blow for Budweiser, which has shelled out over $75 million as the tournament’s primary sponsor. But as always, there’s a catch—or perhaps rather a double standard.

Alcohol reportedly will be allowed in stadiums if you buy a corporate hospitality ticket. Those will run you a cool $22,600.

Absolutely despicable. We won’t sit here and pretend like the uber wealthy don’t get preferential treatment in every nation around the globe. They do. But the disparity is especially stark in the oil monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula. It’s also especially hypocritical. Qatar’s strict policies regarding alcohol sales are based on Sharia Law, an Islamic legal system based on the principles outlined in the Quran. To Muslims, these aren’t laws as much as they are the word of Allah. Apparently for the right price, Allah looks the other way.