Qatar want to change alcohol laws just 48 hours before World Cup kicks off
Leaving it a bit late, huh?
The Qatari royal family are pressuring Fifa for an official and complete ban on selling alcohol at all World Cup stadiums.
This comes just two days before the already controversial tournament kicks off.
The host nation - where alcohol sales are typically restricted to foreigners drinking in licenced hotels and restaurants, or non-Muslim residents with special permits in their homes - have put significant pressure on Fifa to stop selling beer at the eight World Cup stadiums.
If the U-turn goes ahead it will mean Budweiser - one of the tournament's largest sponsors - will be unable to sell its beer to fans at games and could put Fifa in breach of a multi-million dollar contract with the company.
The Times reports that discussions about the issue are believed to be ongoing between Budweiser and Fifa, though.
The publications adds that the removal of sales of Budweiser is now 'likely' after the Qatari royals intervened. The New York Times said the intervention was made by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the brother of Qatar's ruler.
At the moment, World Cup visitors can buy alcohol in hotels and restaurants, in fan zones at certain times, and on stadium concourses - but not inside stadiums.
Beer will cost almost £12 per pint at official venues, and fans will be limited to four drinks to stop them getting drunk. Anyone who does get drunk could be taken to a special zone to sober up.
Journalists ask England fans in Qatar who their favourite ever England player is… pic.twitter.com/aHXweaXJzJ
— Football Away Days (@FBAwayDays) November 16, 2022
This comes after there was wide-spread speculation that football fans in Qatar have been hired in has mounted after a video surveying members of the 'Barmy Army' threw up some interesting results.
However, the Qatar Supreme Committee has rejected claims that they have hired fake fans to promote the tournament on the back of footage showing groups of expats supporting England.
The Guardian reported that they had spoken to several of the fans who said they had come from Kerala but were backing the Three Lions.
Huge number of Indian ex-pats outside the England hotel, awaiting the team’s arrival in Qatar. Spoke to a few of them, and they insist they are not fake fans. Also have shown us murals of England players they have drawn back in Kerala pic.twitter.com/YlQQMOnPad
— Sean Ingle (@seaningle) November 15, 2022
Other locals have been seen chanting for other nations such as Argentina and Brazil.
A statement from the Supreme Committee said that the allegations were "disappointing and surprising."
They said: "Fans from all over the world – many of whom have made Qatar their home – have contributed to the local atmosphere recently, organising fan walks and parades throughout the country, and welcoming the various national teams at their hotels.
"Numerous journalists and commentators on social media have questioned whether these are ‘real’ fans. We thoroughly reject these assertions, which are both disappointing and unsurprising.
In the viral video, dozens of England supporters can be heard chanting "It's coming home" as well "Southgate is our super coach! Sterling is our super star! Pickford is our super keeper!"
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