A Mexican fan was trying to smuggle alcohol into a Qatar World Cup stadium in a bottle disguised as binoculars but was caught by cops outside the stadium. The alcohol was immediately confiscated and the fan was detained. Video footage of the incident has since gone viral on social media.
The incident comes as Qatar banned alcohol sales inside World Cup stadiums two days before the start of the tournament. The Islamic country had earlier committed to FIFA that it would allow sales of beer two hours prior to the start of a match and supporters could buy and enter the stadium but backtracked at the last minute, leaving fans fuming.
Caught Red Handed
It was expected that fans would go to any extent to sneak alcohol into the World Cup stadiums, following the ban. The Mexican fan can be seen in the video dressed in a green football shirt standing next to three officials.
The fan is seen at the security checkpoint which all spectators have to go through to enter the stadium. There is an apparent conversation between the two officials that there is something suspicious about the "binoculars."
The other official is seen holding the binoculars to examine it and get a clear view of it is a real binocular. He is seen fiddling with it till he takes a closer look. He suspects something is fishy and unscrews the central portion and realizes that the man was attempting to smuggle booze into the stadium.
The Mexican fan tries to convince the official but the security officials don't entertain him and confiscate the bottle.
The man is believed to be carrying what appears to be a pair of binoculars that can also be used as a portable water bottle flask.
Strict Rules, No Compromise
It is not known what happened next. It is likely that the man was arrested. Qatar had imposed a ban on a number of things ahead of the World Cup including PDA, wearing skimpy outfits, alcohol consumption in public places, and sales of pork and cooked kosher food. Violation of the rules would attract prison time.
However, more than 200,000 people have since watched the video on Twitter, and many of them have left amusing comments. "Hahaha," wrote one person, while several others added laughing emojis.
Others, though, supported the security and claimed it was proper for them to seize the alcohol and enforce the restriction.
Visitors in Qatar can only buy or consume alcohol inside restaurants or hotels with licenses. If there had been an exemption for the World Cup, alcohol sales would have been permitted in designated "fan zones" or on stadium concourses.
However, Qatar violated a provision of that agreement, so beer is now exclusively sold inside "fan zones." To prevent people from getting too drunk, pints cost $14, are only available during specific hours, and are limited to four per person.
Anyone who gets drunk runs the possibility of being detained until they sober up. Last week, supporters of England in Qatar reacted to the ban with a mixture of anger and resignation, with 25-year-old Alex Todd calling it "madness." He questioned, "Why is the World Cup here when basic pleasures are taken away from you?"
It is the most recent controversy to plague the already fraught World Cup, the first to be held in a Muslim country, which has pitted the hosts' strict view of Islam against football's ruling ethos and traditional trappings.