World Cup host announces 100% alcohol tax
The host of World Cup 2022 has announced it is introducing a 100% tax on alcohol sales.
The move by the Qatar government is part of a new "sin tax" on products regarded as being unhealthy.
"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 said. "The law includes a 100% tax on tobacco and its products and energy drinks, and a 50% tax on sugary drinks."
The policy was revealed when the Qatar Distribution Company, the country’s only alcohol store, released a 30-page list with updated prices for beers, wine and spirits.
Under the new system a 24-pack of beer will cost around $150.
Earlier this 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 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 2022 competition will take place over a reduced time span of 28 days.
There have also been concerns raised about homosexuality being illegal in Qatar.
However, Al Thawadi insisted: “We’re used to hosting major events, we’re used to welcoming people from different walks of life and different parts of the world into our country. Simply put, everybody’s welcome, everybody will be having a good time.”
Nasser Al-Khater, the Deputy Secretary-General for Tournament Affairs, was a little more circumspect: “Whatever laws are in place in Qatar, we hope and expect that people are going to (respect them). Whether it has to do with public displays of affection of any form, or traffic laws or smoking cigarettes in public places, these are all laws that we expect people to respect."