Concerns have been raised about Qatar’s ability to quench the thirst of football fans at World Cup 2022 as it struggles to maintain beer supplies.
The Qatar Distribution Company, the nation’s sole alcohol supplier, has failed to deliver barrels of Heineken, Stella and Guinness in the city for the past two weeks without explanation.
An expat pilot, 30, told The Sun: “It’s unbelievable. Everywhere is running out. The government seem determined to stop everyone drinking or having fun. If this isn’t sorted they’ll be hosting the most miserable World Cup ever.”
A barman at the W Hotel said: “It’s a national shortage.”
One at the Doha Sheraton added: “QDC have not told us why. We are trying to get in more bottled beers but for now our stocks are dry.”
The Sun reports The Marriott and Intercontinental are also running out.
There’s speculation the shortage is due to the government introduced a 100% “sin tax” on imported alcohol, which has driven prices sky high.
The host of World Cup 2022 announced it was introducing a 100% tax on alcohol sales at the beginning of the year.
“The Selective Tax law is designed to impose taxes on certain health-damaging goods and it will be implemented by the beginning of 2019,” a statement by the Ministry of Finance last year. “The law includes a 100% tax on tobacco and its products and energy drinks, and a 50% tax on sugary drinks.”
Under the new system a 24-pack of beer costs around $150.
Last year, tournament organisers assured soccer fans that it would relax its laws on the consumption of alcohol during the World Cup.
Hassan Al Thawadi, head of Qatar’s World Cup 2022 committee, told Russia Today: “Let’s address the elephant in the room – alcohol. Alcohol will be served, it just won’t be served in public places, in the streets and so on, but there will be designated areas, open areas where people will be able to have alcohol.
“It’s a different culture, it’s not a restrictive culture as people think it might be.”
How Qatar’s alcohol laws will affect sponsorship of the World Cup remains to be seen. Budweiser has been the official beer sponsor of the tournament for the past 32 years and is already planning its campaign for 2022.
Qatar controversially won the right to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, amid allegations of corruption. It has never played at a World Cup and does not have a strong sporting tradition.
It’s also the first time the World Cup has headed to the Middle East, with strict alcohol laws just one of the challenges.
FIFA has decided to move the tournament to cooler winter months – summer temperatures can soar to 45 degrees – and has confirmed a start date of November 21, 2022. Temperatures could still be in excess of 30C, with officials assuring fans and competitors that stadiums will be air-conditioned.
The World Cup 2022 competition will run until a week before Christmas and will clash with the normal domestic schedule for the majority of European club sides, so the competition will take place over a reduced time span of 28 days.
Qatar is not alone. Officials have expressed similar concerns that stadiums and bars will run dry during the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.