We experienced the FIFA World Cup in Dubai and Doha without the booze. Honestly, it was a great time.
One of the big controversies of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was the lack of beer and alcohol that would be available for fans. The outcry from Western fans was immense on social media, and Qatar’s decision to suspend the sale of booze at the stadiums 2 days before the start of the tournament didn’t alleviate fans concerns. Well, with the tournament about to conclude, and after our travels to Dubai and Doha, we came to the conclusion that future World Cups don’t need alcohol to make the experience a fun one to experience. If anything, fans from around the world were able to enjoy and celebrate the biggest sporting event in the world without having to worry about unruly fans, especially female fans.
Let’s start the conversation where it should have started – the Islamic faith. In Islam, drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden. Several verses in the Quran forbids individuals from taking intoxicants in any form (which alcohol is considered). For these and for other religious reasons, it makes sense that access to alcohol would be limited to Western establishments in the Middle East. Considering that this would be the first World Cup hosted in the Islamic world, why were fans surprised that alcohol would be limited? Why would these fans assume that their Western culture should supersede that of Islam for a month? Because somehow beer is connected to soccer? That would be news for over the 1 billion Muslims in the world.
While in Dubai and Doha, we saw fans enjoying the beautiful game without copious amounts of alcohol. To be fair, alcohol was more available in Dubai in Western establishments and in the BudX FIFA Fan Festival, but we did not see one fan get themselves wasted. We did not observe one fan cause a fight, or a male fan harassing a female fan, or just any issues that come with fans getting drunk. Everyone was able to enjoy a good time, and considering that this was Laurie’s first time really experiencing the World Cup, it made feel at ease that nothing bad would happen to Laurie.
The same feelings were shared while we were in Doha. Fans left and right were enjoying the fan festivals and impromptu gatherings at the Souk Waqif. There was dancing and singing, fans from countries all over the world taking pictures with another. Were there some fans that wanted a glass of wine? Claro que si, but they understood that they were guests in a foreign country and well, they wanted to respect the local culture. At the game we attended (Brazil-South Korea at Stadium 974 for the Round of 16), the cheery mood continued – DJs were mixing great tunes, random concerts by fans playing all around us, and the genuine excitement that we all come to expect from Brazilian fans were not toned down because of the lack of beer. Había una fiesta buena, and not once were we concerned for our physical safety or for our belongings. We were fine. We were more than fine. El party estuvo buenísimo.
I’m not sure the vibes will be quite the same in the next World Cup. I wonder how many fans are going to get wasted or cause physical altercations or God-forbid worse. I really hope that number is limited, because there are going to be millions of fans that went to the 2022 World Cup and they are going to say – “eso no paso ahi” – when they visit us in 2026.