Fans brave melee crowds, sky-high prices and mockery from FIFA management to finally get their hands on a pint at the Qatar World Cup.
Alcohol sales in Doha got off to a disastrous start as hundreds of football fans rushed to beer tents, resulting in chaotic scenes in the FIFA fan zone.
Lines were long and crowded and there were scenes of near-pandemonium as fans broke through barriers to quench their thirst.
Security struggled to control the noisy crowd, many of whom chanted “we want beer” in different languages, including English and Spanish.
It came after FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave a bizarre and lengthy press conference in Doha this afternoon, during which he slammed criticism of the World Cup and its ban alcohol.
It was good that he charged Budweiser £63m to become a sponsor, before they were told they weren’t allowed to sell his beer in and around stadiums just two days before the hit sending.
The Qataris had previously promised to “respect” all sponsors, but Budweiser was taken by surprise after the conservative royals allegedly pressured FIFA to make the decision.
The FIFA Fan Zone officially opened today for the first time with beer on sale to fans.
Croatian fan who managed to get her beers smiling after going through ‘chaos’
The FIFA Fan Zone in Doha opened its doors on Saturday evening and is designed to accommodate up to 40,000 people
One England fan said: ‘I paid £12.50 for a watered down pint of beer and had to go through a rugby scrum to get it’ (Picture: Mexico fan)
Security struggled to control the hundreds of people pushing to buy Budweiser, which has a beer monopoly on this year’s tournament
Thousands of people gathered in FIFA’s fan zone on its official opening night in Qatar on Saturday
FIFA President Gianni Infantino attacked Qatar critics during a fiery press conference today
Bars opened at 6:30 p.m. in the largest World Cup fan zone in central Doha, which can hold up to 40,000 people.
But fan numbers were reportedly much lower than on Saturday night as staff and security struggled to control the hundreds of people pushing to buy Budweiser, which has a beer monopoly on this year’s tournament.
Phillip Bateman, a Leeds United supporter, said: “It’s total chaos. If they’re struggling to cope with a relatively small beer-buying crowd, how are they going to handle a game-day crowd?
“I paid £12.50 for a watered down pint of beer and had to go through a rugby scrum to get it.”
Jake, another England fan, moaned: “I’ve never seen such chaos around beer. There are people pushing and shoving, you have to walk for hours to get to the bar and security struggles to cope.
“I have my beers, but I won’t be going back.”
It came after FIFA President Gianni Infantino lashed out at European criticism of World Cup host Qatar after the state banned the sale of beer in its stadiums two days before the start of the competition.
The ban came as a shock to most fans after FIFA previously reassured them that despite the country’s strict alcohol laws, they could buy it while enjoying matches. But those lucky enough to be seated in corporate boxes, where tickets cost more than $22,450 each, will still be able to enjoy an array of alcoholic beverages.
England fans have told MailOnline the tournament was ‘ruined’ and FIFA should not have ‘gave in’, complaining they would not have spent thousands of pounds on tickets and flights if they had known about the ban in advance.
Qatar enforces an extremely strict interpretation of Islam that restricts women’s rights and criminalizes members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as banning public displays of affection and public consumption of alcohol.
Qatar has banned the sale of alcohol in its stadiums despite a £63m sponsorship deal with Budweiser
Fans had to fight to buy the expensive pints and then another to get them back to their mates in one piece
Mr Infantino criticized those who spoke out against Qatar’s human rights abuses and handling of the World Cup and dismissed complaints about the alcohol ban.
The Qatari royal family yesterday demanded that no alcohol be sold inside stadiums during the competition despite FIFA’s £63m sponsorship deal with Budweiser.
Alcohol is highly restricted in Qatar and drinking in public can be punishable by up to six months in prison – and even public lashes.
Tournament visitors will only be able to buy alcohol in a small number of bars and hotels, or in the FIFA fan zone, where they will be limited to buying four beers per person to prevent them from s intoxicate.
Anyone considered drunk by Qatari officials risks being taken to a “special area” to sober up.
Mr Infantino reacted furiously to Europeans’ reaction to the ban, suggesting fans shouldn’t complain about not being able to drink.
He told a press conference: “Honestly, if this is the biggest problem we have for the World Cup, I will sign immediately, go to the beach and relax until December 18.”
“Every decision we make at this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA.
“I personally think that if for three hours a day you can’t drink a beer, you will survive.”
The FIFA President added: “What we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start giving people moral lessons.”
He said Qatar and the capital Doha would be ready to host the “best World Cup ever”.
“Today I feel Qatari,” Infantino said. “Today, I feel Arab. Today, I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today, I feel like a migrant worker.
It is only the latest controversy to plague an already tense World Cup – the first to be held in a Muslim country – which has thrown the spirit of football governance and traditional trappings into conflict with the conservative interpretation of football. Islam by hosts.
Public displays of affection are banned in the country and homosexuality remains illegal.
Members of the LGBT+ community could even face death under the nation’s strict interpretation of Islam.
Western figures have been heavily criticized for agreeing to work with Qatar for the tournament, including David Beckham who has become the face of the World Cup.
He signed a £10m deal with the Qataris and filmed several promotional videos, including with a Qatari woman who later told MailOnline being gay is ‘against human nature’ and compared the members from the LGBTQ+ community to animals.
This week, British comedian Joe Lycett dared Beckham to cut ties with the country, threatening to shred £10,000 of his own live money to represent the cost of the deal if he didn’t.
Infantino said European countries had closed their borders to immigrants who wanted to work there, while Qatar had offered opportunities to workers from India, Bangladesh and other Southeast Asian countries through channels. legal.
The migrant workers who built the World Cup stadiums in Qatar often worked long hours in harsh conditions and faced discrimination, wage theft and other abuses as their employers evaded accountability, said London-based rights group Equidem in a 75-page report published this month.
The Guardian previously reported that more than 6,500 migrant workers had died building World Cup infrastructure in Qatar.
Under intense scrutiny from the international community, Qatar has enacted a number of labor reforms in recent years that have been hailed by Equidem and other rights groups.
But advocates say abuse is still widespread and workers have few avenues of redress.
Mr Infantino said: “What has been put on the table over the past few months is something quite incredible.”