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FIFA WC diary: Beer priced at nearly $14 per half-litre!

Last updated on: November 16, 2022 23:32 IST
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A football fan from England bought beers from all 32 countries playing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

IMAGE: A football fan from England bought beers from all 32 countries playing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Gus/ballstothis/Twitter

Half a litre of beer will cost 50 Qatari riyals ($13.73) inside the main fan zone at the soccer World Cup in Qatar, a source with knowledge of alcohol sales at the tournament told Reuters.

Major World Cup sponsor Budweiser has exclusive rights to sell beer at the finals and will serve its products at the 40,000 capacity FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha's Al Bidda Park.

 

The beer maker will also serve beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each stadium, where the beer price is "to be confirmed," said the source, who declined to be named.

The World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on Sunday, is the first to be held in a Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol. While not a "dry" state like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, consuming alcohol in public places is illegal in Qatar.

The beer price in the FIFA fan zone falls in line with relatively expensive prices hotel bars charge in the Gulf Arab state, where a beer also costs around 50 riyals per half-litre.

Tournament organisers, who started negotiating the alcohol price with world soccer's governing body FIFA in at least 2019, had said they wanted to make alcohol "accessible" to fans and that Qatar would consider offering alcohol at lower prices.

"We recognise there is an issue with price," Qatar 2022 Chief Executive Nasser Al Khater said in 2019.

At the FIFA Club World Cup held in Qatar that year a half-litre of beer cost around $6.50.

Qatar's World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, would not confirm the price of beer served inside the fan zone when contacted on Tuesday.

A spokesperson confirmed media reports that some of the zones where alcohol will be served outside stadiums have recently been moved within the perimeter areas.

"Pouring times and number of pouring destinations remains the same across all eight World Cup stadiums," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Non-alcoholic beer will also be sold in the fan zone for 30 Qatari riyals ($8.25) and soft drinks for 15 riyals ($4.10).

"You do get a 'commemorative' FIFA keep cup with that price too," the source added.

King leads Belgium soccer training in tongue-in-cheek film

With whistles, words of encouragement and even a fake tattoo, Belgium's King Philippe took charge of the national "Red Devils" soccer team this week in a tongue-in-cheek film designed to get the country behind the side at the World Cup.

The short film shows Belgium coach Roberto Martinez arriving at the palace for an audience with the king and viewing items such as slippers and a notebook with tactics to imply the monarch is an avid fan.

"I know why you're here," the king says.

"It's Devil time."

The king then takes to the training pitch, at one point offering advice to star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

The video has echoes of British Queen Elizabeth's appearance in a light-hearted spot with James Bond actor Daniel Craig for the 2012 London Olympics.

Iran players can protest at World Cup says coach Queiroz

Iran's players are free to join in the protests sweeping their country over women's rights while they are playing at the World Cup in Qatar but must do so within the rules of the tournament, national team coach Carlos Queiroz said on Tuesday.

The rights activist HRANA news agency said 344 people have been killed and 15,280 arrested over the last two months of nationwide protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.

Iran said her death was due to pre-existing conditions and accused its enemies of fomenting the unrest to destabilise the country. The demonstrations have turned into a legitimacy crisis for the clerical establishment, in power for over four decades.

Iran's players covered up their national team badge when they played two warm-up internationals in September, which was interpreted as a sign of support for the protests.

But they have been heavily criticised on Twitter in the last few days for meeting with Iranian leaders before their departure for Doha, where they trained for the first time on Tuesday.

“The players are free to protest as they would if they were from any other country as long as it conforms with the World Cup regulations and is in the spirit of the game,” Queiroz told a news conference.

“But you can also express yourself on the field in the game of football and the players have only one thing on their mind and that is to fight to qualify for the second round,” he said.

World soccer's governing body FIFA has been opposed to players, teams and fans engaging in protests and sloganeering but in the last year has taken a more tolerant attitude to towards protests, like when several teams wore t-shirts calling for human rights in protests aimed at World Cup hosts Qatar.

Queiroz was also asked whether he was proud to coach a country that repressed women and in a tense retort asked the reporter how much he would pay him to answer the question.

The coach said Iran’s players had set themselves the target of reaching the second round, despite being paired in a tough Group B with England, Wales and the United States. They start against England at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.

Iran have failed in their five previous World Cup finals appearances to reach the second round. “They don’t only want to be part of history but also to make history,” added Queiroz.

“If we bring joy and pleasure to the people then we have done our job as footballers and that’s the most important issue for me as national team coach.”

Queiroz, who has managed at the last four World Cups, said he felt an out-of-form England could be beaten but must also be respected. “There are few teams who can do what they did in coming back in their last match against Germany,” he said.

England recovered from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 with Germany at Wembley in their final Nations League game in September.

Rainbow-themed badge adorns US training facility

Rainbow colours seen in the United States national team's badge in support of LGBTQ+ people

IMAGE: Rainbow colours seen in the United States national team's badge in support of LGBTQ+ people. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

The US men's World Cup squad are showing their support for the LGBTQ community by way of a rainbow-themed team logo inside their training facility and media workroom.

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar which is hosting the tournament starting on Sunday.

The design features seven rainbow-colored vertical stripes below "USA" in dark blue letters and is part of the "Be The Change" initiative the team adopted in 2020 with the goal of inspiring action on social justice issues.

"When we are on the world stage and when we are in a venue like Qatar, it is important to bring awareness to these issues and that is what 'Be the Change' is about," US men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter told a news conference on Monday.

"It is not just stateside that we want to bring attention to social issues, it is also abroad. We recognise that Qatar has made strides and there has been a ton of progress but there's some work still to do."

Organisers of the World Cup, which is the first to be held in a Middle Eastern nation, say that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or background, is welcome, while also warning against public displays of affection.

Soccer players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 World Cup, especially LGBTQ individuals and women, whom rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against.

"We are a group who believes in inclusivity and we will continue to project that message going forward," said US goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

"We have chatted and continue to have discussions as we lead into the games. We have leaned on the message of 'Be the Change'.

"That is something that we have been proud of and continue to work towards, be impactful with ourselves, our presence and our platform, and we will continue to be so here in Qatar."

The rainbow badge, which will not be worn by the team during World Cup games, has been routinely displayed by US Soccer no matter the occasion as a way to promote a spirit of inclusivity.

"Our rainbow badge has an important and consistent role in the identity of US Soccer," US Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe said in an email to Reuters.

"As part of our approach for any match or event, we include rainbow branding to support and embrace the LGBTQ community, as well as to promote a spirit of inclusiveness and welcoming to all fans across the globe.

"As a result, locations that we will manage and operate at the FIFA World Cup, such as the team hotel, media areas and parties, will feature both traditional and rainbow US Soccer branding."

US team tell service members they are also in Qatar defending human rights

The United States will do their part to defend human rights at the Qatar World Cup saying on Wednesday they would draw inspiration from American service members who had come to watch them train.

After training on Tuesday with migrant workers who helped build the World Cup stadiums, the US squad hosted local army and embassy personnel telling the crowd they were committed to the same values that they are defending.

"We have anchors that revolve around change and being a team that's outspoken against things that have come about in the United States," said US goalkeeper Matt Turner.

"I think it's clear that we support human rights everywhere and I think again it is just another one of our anchors."

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the US are back at the tournament for what they have billed as a "revenge tour".

That tour kicks off on Monday with their opener against Wales.

With one of the youngest squads, the U.S. have struggled in their buildup to the World Cup, losing 2-0 to Japan in their penultimate warm-up match and then days later drawing 0-0 with Saudi Arabia.

The Americans also face England and Iran in Group A but are not looking past a crucial opener.

"We're going to take things one game at the time," said Turner.

"We're not going to look past our first game against Wales and I think it's important to take things one step at a time."

No gender-neutral uniforms for Virgin Atlantic crew on England flight to Qatar

Virgin Atlantic's gender-neutral uniform policy did not apply for crew on board the England team's flight to the World Cup in Qatar.

The airline removed the requirement for its employees to wear gendered uniform options, it said in September, explaining they could "wear the clothing that expresses how they identify or present themselves".

This, however, did not apply to the crew who attended coach Gareth Southgate's squad on Tuesday's flight to the World Cup.

"Initially UK, US and Israel are the territories where the uniform policy is being rolled out for our people," a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman told the BBC.

"Those countries are more accepting of non-binary identities allowing more self-expression," she added.

Some soccer players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the tournament, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, whom rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against.

England flew to Doha on a plane named "Rain Bow", which featured an image of a man holding a union flag and wearing rainbow-coloured trainers.

The Football Association said that it did not choose the aircraft, the BBC reported, but it was happy to fly on it.

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