‘Islamophobic’ will force Saudi Arabia to sell beer if they win the World Cup
Saudi Arabia’s sports minister has insisted that no alcohol requirements will be imposed if the country wins the right to host the World Cup in 2030, and Qatar’s ongoing beer dispute could continue eight years from now. The lack of alcohol available at this year’s tournament has grabbed headlines in recent weeks, as fans are only allowed to drink in specific fan zones and in hotels and restaurants set back from the streets.
It was initially thought that fans would have been allowed to buy beer at the stadiums before the organizers of the World Cup in Qatar went back on their word just days before the start of the tournament. It appears similar alcohol restrictions may be implemented if Saudi Arabia ends up hosting in 2030, and Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said sky news that their decision not to sell alcohol should not be a barrier to organizing the World Cup in their country.
Asked if it would be Islamophobic to force Saudi Arabia to allow the sale of alcohol during the tournament, he said: “Yes, because the World Cup is for everyone. If you are against it and don’t feel like you are going to enjoy your arrival time, and you can’t respect that rule, then don’t come. It’s as simple as that.”
Saudi Arabia’s bid for the 2030 edition of the tournament has come under intense scrutiny of late amid the country’s questionable approach to human rights and draconian laws against homosexuality, which are similar to those in force in Qatar. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi officials also raised questions about his suitability to host soccer’s biggest event, as the former Washington Post columnist’s remains have never been found.
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Prince Abdulaziz continued to insist that Saudi Arabia is changing for the better, but declined to provide details on specific reforms, adding: “Everyone was horrified by what happened.” [to Khashoggi] and they all condemned him in the kingdom.
“What the government did in Saudi Arabia, they took steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We know that Saudi Arabia from a couple of years ago has also changed a lot. We know that we are changing into the future.” .”
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Prince Abdulaziz also stated that LGBT+ fans would be welcome to attend the World Cup if it is held in Saudi Arabia in 2030, but insisted that all supporters must follow his rules on public displays of affection throughout the tournament.
“I’m sure they’ve come to some of our events,” he said. “We don’t go around asking, ‘Are you gay or straight?’ Everyone is welcome, there are rules that everyone abides by, there are rules that everyone abide by about our culture and how they have to comply with the culture that we have.
“So even men and women, they can’t show affection in public places, etc. And that’s a regulation that we have to respect. And we have to respect the culture.”
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