If the death of migrant workers, the questionable tracking app, shipping container lodging, and horrible, overpriced food weren’t enough to sap your excitement for the 2022 World Cup — Qatar found another way. With less than three days until competition begins in earnest, the Qatari government has gone back on its decision to allow beer sales at stadium perimeters during the World Cup.
In response, FIFA did its best to lick two boots at once with its long, dirt-covered tongue. An official press release sided with Qatar’s decision, while trying to kowtow to beverage giant AB InBev, beer sponsor of the World Cup, who stands to lose a lot of expected money because of the ban.
The issue isn’t so much that Qatar’s ban on beer, because that was a known quantity when the host nation was announced — but more that fans we explicitly told they would be able to drink before games, and have now had that removed when it’s too late to change travel plans. It’s a bait and switch in its very simplest terms, and while one could argue nobody should need beer to enjoy soccer, that’s not the point. It’s woven into the fabric of the game itself, and pulling it now unquestionably impacts the enjoyment of some fans.
Qatar, like many muslim countries, has very strict laws prohibiting alcohol. How this would mesh with an event like the World Cup was a question since the announcement of the host city was made. However, a middle ground was sold to fans with the idea they could still purchase alcohol in designated fan areas, bars, and in areas outside of stadiums — designed to bend the rules for foreigners, while keeping them intact for locals.
Sure, respecting a country’s laws and traditions is important, but nobody asked Qatar to host the World Cup. The country and FIFA knew what they were getting into when they let this debacle happen. It’s kind of like being lactose intolerant, eating a whole cheese pizza, then complaining when the diarrhea arrives.
Fans now have no choice. Their tickets have been bought, the accommodation arranged, and now they’re arriving to a very different event that the one they were sold on. We’ll need to wait and see how many other take-backsies Qatar tries to pull with the laws it modified with the World Cup.
Just great work all around FIFA. Brilliant stuff.