One of the pastimes of my college football fan experience was sneaking booze into the stadium. A lot of venues nixed alcohol sales after crowds devolved into angry mobs in the ’90s. A few rolled back those policies recently, and whether it’s due to the unending greed of universities, or a sense of helplessness because attendees shoved shooters into any and all crevices, it highlights a fact of fandom that Qatar will soon realize as it readies to host soccer supporters at the World cup.
And that is: People are going to get belligerent, and yell, cry, bark, shout, laugh, hug, high five, occasionally throw things on the field; or, worst case, start a riot in the stands despite the best efforts of authority figures.
While I doubt we’ll see Ultras descend upon Ar Rayyan like a bunch of brain-washed lunatics and try to stab each other with road flares, there will be plenty of adult beverages despite the best efforts of organizers to discourage fun in general. Some beautiful — and dedicated — soul has already compiled an alcohol map of Qatar, and that thing is going to be leaned on like that friend you have in New York who knows how to get all the good drugs.
You can put the beer tents in the least visible/accessible nooks and crannies of the fan fests, and the only thing it’s going to hinder is crowd movement. Clearly, these dolts have never been to a kegger where a couple of stoned bros threw the barrel of Natty Light in the worst possible location, causing extended wait times, a surly crowd, and probably a serious fire hazard.
The other aspect it overlooked is that the easiest liquor to sneak into places also leads to the sloppiest drunks. I keep going back to the college experience because many students double majored in alcohol consumption, but dollar shot night never ends well. When your options have been reduced to straight-up, little chaser, that’s when things get rowdy.
(Cheap drink night also isn’t as easy on the bank account as you’d think. Waking up to a $97 charge usually comes with little knowledge of how it got there.)
If anything, beer and wine should be readily offered because we’ve all seen Gus after one too many whiskeys, or Gloria six-martinis deep, and that’s fun for no one.
“Overrun with obliterated tourists” is how most service industry people spend their busy seasons, and the corrupt dolts who made a power play for the World Cup should’ve taken that into consideration before they wired those millions into awaiting offshore accounts.
Additionally, I know why I’m seeing “Visit Qatar” ads for the first time in the history of television. I just want to say it’s not going to work. It’s 118 in the shade, there’s little booze, sex outside of marriage is outlawed, and you can hear the cries of dead laborers emanating from the country’s infrastructure. But, yeah, sign me up for that $871 round-trip ticket.
These gentle “we don’t do that here” reminders are going to stop people from drinking about as much as Qatar’s “we don’t talk about Bruno” campaign is going to temper protests about the parade of human rights fiascos that accompanied its preparation for the tournament.
Telling soccer fans they can’t drink works about as well as telling a bunch of college football fans that booze is off-limits in the stadium. The challenge has been accepted, and no amount of wands, metal detectors, frisks, or bag searches is going to prevent public intoxication.
It might not be Las Vegas, “Oh my god, did that guy just puke his McDonalds back into the bag?” levels of sloppiness, but there will be way more drinking than Qatar would like.