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Alcohol sales may face strict limits at World Cup: sources

Alcohol could be unavailable inside stadiums at the Qatar World Cup and only sold at selected fan zones for a few hours late at night, sources linked to the event’s organisation said.

While plans are still under discussion, the availability of alcohol has been a major talking point ahead of the tournament in the conservative country, where drinking in public is illegal.

Beer, champagne, wine and spirits will be served in VIP lounges at the World Cup stadiums, according to the FIFA website, and beer will be on sale in areas outside the venues before and after games.

But bars inside the stadiums could be dry, while alcohol may only be available at a limited number of fan sites from 10 pm to 1 am, said the sources, who were briefed on the plans but were unwilling to speak on the record.

Late matches will start at 10 pm for the Middle East’s first World Cup, which was shifted to the winter dates of November 21 to December 18 to avoid Qatar’s searing summer heat.

The FIFA fan zone for about 40,000 people in central Doha is one area expected to offer alcohol within any eventual time restrictions, the sources said.

Doha Golf Club and the InterContinental Beach and Spa, both outside the city centre, are two other entertainment areas with “international beverages”, according to a planning document released in June and seen by AFP.

World body FIFA and the Qatari organising committee did not immediately comment on the plans for alcohol when approached by AFP.

They have previously promised to announce details “in due course”.

In Qatar, a gas-rich Muslim state, access to alcohol is usually confined to bars and restaurants in certain hotels.

Visitors are not allowed to bring it into the country.

Non-Muslim expatriates with a special licence are able to buy alcohol in a dedicated shop outside Doha.

Earlier this year, a source close to the tournament told AFP that beer would cost about six dollars in fan zones, lower than the price of about $12 in Doha’s hotels. The figure has not been confirmed.

Rules about providing alcohol inside World Cup stadiums vary from country to country.

At the 2014 tournament, host country Brazil lifted a ban on in-stadium sales at FIFA’s request.

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