World Cup: What are the laws in Qatar on alcohol, LGBTQ and outfits

What laws will World Cup fans have to obey in Qatar? As FIFA confirm beer ban in stadiums, here’s everything YOU need to know – from LGBTQ rules to outfits and where you CAN buy alcohol

  • World Cup fans found drunk in the street could be jailed or hit with hefty fines 
  • In Qatar same-sex relations are illegal and carry a jail term of up to seven years
  • And there are strict rules on what you can wear and bring into the Gulf nation 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

With just 48 hours until the kick-off of the World Cup in Qatar, Fifa has announced it is banning the sale of booze at stadiums following intense pressure from the kingdom’s powerful royal family. 

More than one-and-half million football fans from across the globe are set to descend upon the Gulf state to witness sport’s biggest competition.

But the 11th-hour intervention by the strict Muslim nation’s rulers will come as a blow to punters hoping to enjoy the sporting spectacle.  

Fifa confirmed alcohol sales will now be confined to special ‘fan zones’, where pints are expected to cost a whopping £12 and will only be available at certain times – with each person limited to four.

It is the latest controversy to plague this year’s World Cup and a fresh demonstration of the strict rules fans should expect to follow, with boozing, swearing and having sex potentially putting tourists at risk of being jailed, flogged – or worse.  

What are the laws on alcohol? 

Football fans are being warned not to get too drunk if they have flown out to Qatar to watch the World Cup. Pictured: Fans celebrating with beers during the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England in July 2021

Football fans found drunk in the street could find themselves being jailed or being hit with hefty fines. 

Guzzling alcohol in public spaced is banned under the country’s strict rules and could result in those caught being jailed for six months. 

But other punishments that have been dished out for people found drinking booze have included public lashings. 

However, security bosses in Qatar are understood to be taking a more relaxed view during this year’s tournament, with police reportedly expected to turn a blind eye to most offences. But those fans caught getting into brawls or vandalising property should expect to be punished. 

Supporters are being urged to avoid purchasing duty-free booze because the importation of alcohol is illegal. And anyone found taking it into the country will have their stash confiscated and could face imprisonment.   

Fans will be able to buy alcohol at hotels and designated ‘fan zones’ but drinking on the street will be prohibited. Pictured: Football fans waiting for England players to arrive at their hotel in Al Wakra, on Tuesday

Alcohol is only normally served in hotel restaurants and bars that have licenses in Qatar. It is illegal to consume it anywhere else. 

However, non-Muslim residents of Doha who have a booze license can drink at home. 

At the World Cup, punters will be allowed to buy beer within designated ‘fan zones’ in downtown Doha. But there will be a limit on when people can buy alcohol – and a limit on how much they can buy.  

Much like America, the legal drinking age in Qatar is 21 and bouncers at bars often ask for photo ID or passports when people enter. 

What are the LGBTQ+ laws in Qatar?  

LGBT fans are urged to be careful of Qatar’s strict rules against homosexuality. Pictured is a person holding a rainbow flag at an LGBTQ rally in Buenos Aires Argentina, on November 5

Same-sex relationships are banned in Qatar, with homosexual acts considered ‘immoral’ under Sharia law. 

Punishments can include fines and prison sentences of up to seven years. But death sentences can also be issued. 

Article 285 of the nation’s penal code also criminalises ‘leading, instigating or seducing a male in any way to commit sodomy’ and ‘inducing or seducing a male or female in any way to commit illegal or immoral actions’. 

Organisers of the World Cup have insisted that everyone – regardless of their sexual orientation – would be welcome in Qatar ‘without fear of any sort or repercussion’. 

But earlier this month a Qatar World Cup ‘ambassador’ came under fire for claiming that homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’. 

In an interview filmed in Doha, former Qatari international Khalid Salman addressed the issue of homosexuality, which is illegal in the conservative Muslim country.

‘(Homosexuality) is haram. You know what haram (forbidden) means?’ Salman said in an interview.

When asked why it was haram, Salman said: ‘I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.’ 

However, gay couples will be able to openly hold hands, cuddle and kiss at the Qatar World Cup, despite public displays of affection being outlawed by the Arab state, it has been claimed. 

FIFA has held secret meetings with Qatar’s Interior Ministry and persuaded it to stop officers from its Preventive Security Department arresting gay supporters at the World Cup. 

Meanwhile, traditional symbols representing the LBGTQ+ community – including rainbow flags – could be confiscated to protect fans from being attacked for promoting gay right.  

What are the laws on clothing and dress? 

The country has a strict dress code with Qatari women expected to wear the traditional abaya, a long dark robe that covers the whole body. Pictured is a woman wearing an abaya in the Qatari capital of Doha on Friday

Visitors to Qatar are being urged to dress modestly, with the country’s tourism website saying men and women should ‘show respect for local culture by avoiding excessively revealing clothing in public.’

Visitors are being asked to cover their shoulders and knees, with those caught wearing shorts or sleeveless tops potentially being turned away from government buildings, markets and major shopping complexes.   

When in public, Qatari women are expected to wear the abaya, which is a long dark robe that covers the entire body.

However, foreign visitors do not need to wear this or cover their hair. But they are expected to cover their shoulders and wear skits or dresses that fall below the knee. 

In hotels, it is a different tale, where bikinis are commonly worn around the pool. 

Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic staff flying the England team to Qatar were told not to wear gender-neutral uniforms but instead dress in more traditional cabin crew outfits. 

What advice do the Home Office give travelling fans? 

The Home Office has urged fans to be ‘respectful’ of Qatari laws and customs. Pictured: England fans in Doha, Qatar on November 11 

The Government is urging football fans to pay close attention to Qatari law and to be ‘respectful’ of the nation’s customs.

Fans travelling to the country are being urged to make sure their actions ‘don’t offend’ anyone as there could be ‘serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK’ such as the importation of pork, alcohol or anything potential pornographic.  

Visitors should not become involved with drugs while in Qatar and can expect ‘severe penalty for possession of even residual amounts’.

‘There is zero tolerance for drugs in Qatar,’ the UK Government said on its website. ‘The penalties for the use, trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs can include lengthy custodial sentences, heavy fines and deportation.’

On sexuality, the Government said that private life in Qatar was ‘largely respected’ but any displays of public intimacy ‘can be considered offensive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intent’. 

For a full list of advice, see the Government’s website, here. 

What are the items I can’t bring into Qatar for the World Cup? 

Among the items people are not allowed to bring into the Qatar include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Pictured is a woman vaping from an e-cigarette in Birmingham 

Importing any pornography and sex toys, pork products and religious books into Qatar is also illegal with all luggage scanned at Hamad International Airport Arrivals Hall and contraband seized. 

Any drugs bought over the counter such as codeine must come with a prescription note or will be taken away.

Those caught with contraband narcotics could face hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences. 

Qatar law also prohibits the importation, sale and purchase of electronic cigarettes, liquids and other similar products.

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