Rush on the first sip of beer in the official fan zone in Qatar

A swarm of jerseys from Argentina, Tunisia or Mexico set off as if at the start of a race: for the few thousand people who have been queuing for an hour, the time has come to buy the first “official” beer of the Mondial-2022.

On the eve of the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador, the Fifa fan zone opened its doors on Saturday shortly after 4 p.m. local time. Three hours later, the Budweiser stands opened in Al Bidda Park in Doha.

The day after the decision by the organizers to no longer sell beers around the stadiums, but only in the fan zones, the moment was awaited by many supporters, but also a large number of media who came to immortalize this first sip.

Crossed a little earlier, Greg Krawiec, 31, an American supporter of Poland, had promised AFP that he would be among the first in front of the red tents of the American brewer. It was. “It’s a bit heartbreaking, because I like to drink a beer when I watch sports, but that won’t take away the interest in the tournament,” he added under his red and white wig. “We want the World Cup to be festive and beer helps to have fun, but you have to adapt,” says Alan Sanchez, 30, under his Mexican sombrero. Juan Alvarez balances twelve beers bought for 50 Qatari riyals (13 euros) each; a price similar to those practiced in international hotels and higher than initially mentioned by the organizers.

© AP

“Four beers rather than one”

“I’m going to drink at least three”, announces the 37-year-old Mexican, one eye on the pyrotechnic spectacle drawn a little further. “Fireworks and lasers are great, but no World Cup without beer!” Like most football fans from abroad, American Katherine Castellanos, 30, accepts the restrictions imposed by the authorities in Qatar, a conservative Muslim emirate.

The Ecuadorian supporter still notices a perverse effect: “when you arrive in front of the stands, you buy four beers rather than one”. And off she went to join the crowd of 40,000 people, residents of Qatar, many of whom came with their families and mostly Latin American visitors.

On the program for the rest of the evening, the official inauguration of the fan zone by the president of Fifa Gianni Infantino, transformed into a room manager, then a concert by reggaeton singer Maluma. With DJ Diplo and Calvin Harris, the group Clean Bandit, singer Sean Paul and rapper Gims, who performs one of the anthems of the World Cup, the Colombian is one of the headliners who will perform, in parallel matches, on the stage of the Fifa Fan Festival.

Several private fan zones, some of which will sell unrestricted alcohol, are also opening across Doha. World Cup organizers promise “90 special events” until the final on December 18.

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