A thirsty football fan reportedly walked 11 kilometres in search of a pint through the streets of Qatar’s capital Doha, during this year’s World Cup.
The Middle Eastern country, which has strict laws on alcohol consumption, made a controversial U-turn just two days out from the start of the tournament, where it banned alcohol from the football stadiums for the entire World Cup.
This is despite American beer brand Budweiser forking out $75 million (AU $112 million) for pouring rights.
The kerfuffle led Sam Greenhill, an England fan who works for The Daily Mail, to decide to go in search of a hoppy brew around Qatar’s capital Doha.
Mr Greenhill commented on the “buzzing atmosphere, as mums, dads and children mingled with excited and exuberant fans from across the world.” But, he also pointed out that:
“Absolutely nowhere offered a glass of beer or a glass of wine – understandable in a strict Islamic nation.”
This included the ‘fan festival’ area, a three-mile trek away which, despite having 40 fridges filled with lager, was closed until the following day. As Mr Greenhill put it, “It wouldn’t open until 7pm and I could buy only four drinks of less than a pint each.”
Instead, he was pointed towards a high-end hotel, but it was not as simple as just walking straight there.
“Central Qatar is gripped by officialdom terrified by the idea that they are about to be swamped by millions of fans,” he said. “To manage the expected influx, at every road junction there are several people sending you on a half-mile detour.
Mr Greenhill warned fans, “Should you pass a subway train station, you can expect another mile of queuing to actually be allowed in.”
Eventually, he completed the seven-mile pint pilgrimage to the Best Western Hotel, who let him in for a lager, after confirming he had a non-Qatari passport.
Other bars that are reportedly selling alcohol include Public House, Mulberry Tavern, The Irish Harp and Champions Bar. However, fans wanting to drink in Qatar should go with some cash to burn, with Reuters reporting that the main fan zone will be selling a half-litre of beer for 50 Qatari riyals (AU $20.68).
The cost and time needed to simply grab a cold one is just another controversial aspect of this year’s World Cup, which has been heavily criticised by fans across the globe.
On the bright side, the lack of beer means the games will certainly be remembered – if for all the wrong reasons!