Qatar laws and jail sentences – rules fans have to adhere to

Party in Qatar ahead of the World Cup

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The World Cup in Qatar will be a tournament like no other with fans having to get used to and abide by laws that are unique to the experience of years gone by. The Middle Eastern nation has stricter laws than what many supporters will be used to and many have voiced concerns that they will be unable to enjoy the competition as much as they have in the past.

Here Express Sport looks into the key legal issues fans should take into account while in Qatar in order to reduce all risk of falling foul to the country’s punishments which include lengthy jail sentences. 


The sale of alcohol has been one of the most contentious issues surrounding the tournament and Qatari have agreed to relax the country’s strict laws on where it can be sold for the duration of the World Cup. Fans can buy drinks in fan zones and select hotels but have reigned in on earlier promises to have it available in the vicinity of stadiums after the royal family intervened. 

Supporters will be restricted to just four drinks and it will come at a considerable cost, with 500ml of Budweiser setting you back £12. You must be at least 21 years old to purchase in any of the licensed venues. 

Drinking in public outside the permitted areas can come at a cost, as can public drunkness. The UK Foreign Office states that the acts are punishable by a £700 fine or six months in prison although intoxicated supporters will have areas that they can go to sober up. 

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There is a strict zero-tolerance policy on drugs and the punishments for anyone found in possession are highly likely to be severely enforced. 

Anyone caught bringing drugs into Qatar can face 20 years in prison, plus a fine of between 100,000 (about £24,000) and 300,000 riyals (about £70,000). Embassies are rarely able to help in such cases and those convicted would be left at the hands of the Qatari authorities. 

Smoking is allowed but vaping is not and anyone trying to take them into the country will have them confiscated. 


Qatar’s record on LGBTQ+ rights has been one of the major controversial issues about the tournament with homosexuality banned and punishable by three years in prison. 

World Cup organisers have said everyone will be welcome at the event but have discouraged public displays of affection. Rainbow flags could also be confiscated from supporters under the claim that it would protect people from anti-LGBTQ+ violence. 

Other things to consider

Protests, fighting and disorderly behaviour can also be punished by law, with punishments including jail time and fines. 

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