Qatar World Cup: How will drunk fans be dealt with? Will Beckham take center stage? Nine stories to watch out for | World News

The World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday – and it’s set to be one of the most controversial in the tournament’s history.

Concerns about corruption, migrant worker deaths and the country’s attitude towards LGBT+ fans have dogged the event before a ball has even been kicked.

And the timing of the tournament – with the final taking place a week before Christmas instead of the summer – has ensured it will be a World Cup like no other.

Here, Sky News looks at nine stories to watch out for at the event as the biggest stars in football gather in the Gulf state to compete for the famous trophy.

How will drunk fans be dealt with – and how widely will alcohol be available?

Qatar has performed an extraordinary U-turn, just two days before the start of the World Cup, after banning alcohol around stadiums at the tournament.

The sale of alcohol is strictly controlled in the conservative Muslim country and is usually only allowed inside hotel bars and restaurants away from street view.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Preview - Lusail, Qatar - November 10, 2022 A man with a replica of the World Cup outside Lusail Stadium ahead of the World Cup REUTERS/Marko Djurica
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Qatar’s Lusail Stadium will host the World Cup final

Qatar had said it would open up more areas where alcohol could be sold during the World Cup, including outside stadiums and fan zones.

But on Friday, it was revealed fans will no longer be allowed to buy alcohol around the stadiums, while it is unclear if booze will still be available in corporate areas.

It comes later Budweiser, one of FIFA’s biggest sponsors, was forced to relocate stalls selling beer – costing around £11.60 a pint – outside stadiums earlier this week because Qatari rulers wanted alcohol to be less prominent.

There have also been questions about how boozy football supporters will be dealt with in Qatar, where it is illegal to be drunk in public.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - FIFA Fan Festival - Doha, Qatar - November 16, 2022 General view of a beer bar at the FIFA fan festival REUTERS/Muath Freij
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Budweiser is an official sponsor of the World Cup and was due to offer its beers at stadiums

Qatar’s World Cup chief, Nasser Al Khater, told Sky News that drunk fans will be sent to special zones to sober up.

“There are plans in place for people to sober up if they’ve been drinking excessively,” he said.

“It’s a place to make sure that they keep themselves safe, they’re not harmful to anybody else.”

What role will David Beckham have at the tournament?

David Beckham attended the Doha Forum in March

The former England captain has been strongly criticized for agreeing to be an ambassador for Qatar to promote the World Cup, in a deal reportedly worth up to £150m.

Beckham had been hailed as a “gay icon”, having been the first footballer to appear on the front of Attitude magazine.

Three Lions Pride have expressed their disappointment with Beckham’s role with Qatar, while a comedian Joe Lycett has threatened to shred £10,000 of his own money if the former midfielder does not end the deal.

Beckham – who reportedly signed up to be “the face of the Qatar World Cup” – appeared in a video message in Doha this week, in which he claimed this year’s tournament would be a “platform for progress” and “for making the world a more tolerant and inclusive place”.

Will players protest?

While Qatar has been criticized for its stance on same-sex relationships – with homosexuality illegal in the country – along with its human rights record and treatment of migrant workers, FIFA have urged teams to “focus on the football”.

Their plea, however, appears already to have been ignored and players are expected to raise awareness of human rights issues during the tournament.

England captain Harry Kane will wear a OneLove armband in support of the LGBT+ community, even if it is banned by FIFA and risks fines from football’s governing body.

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‘We won’t stop’ supporting Qatar workers

Wales captain Gareth Bale has also confirmed he will wear the armband, saying the players can “shed a light on the problems” in Qatar.

Before the tournament, Australia’s players released a video criticizing the “suffering and harm of countless” migrant workers in Qatar after reports of deaths, ranging from a few dozen to several thousand, during preparations for the World Cup.

Read more: Why the Qatar World Cup is so controversial

Manchester United and Portugal star Bruno Fernandes has also voiced his displeasure at Qatar hosting the tournament.

He told Sky Sports: “We have seen the surroundings over the past few weeks and months, and about people who have died on the construction of the stadiums. We are not happy for that.”

Qatar world cup

How will LGBT+ fans be treated?

Concerns have been raised about the treatment of LGBT+ fans traveling to the World Cup in Qatar.

Just two weeks before the start of the event, an ambassador for the tournament, Khalid Salman, described homosexuality as “damage in the mind” while speaking to a German broadcaster, before the interview was immediately cut short by a press officer.

A report by Human Rights Watch warned that security forces in Qatar have arbitrarily arrested and abused LGBT+ Qataris as recently as September.

And last month, veteran LGBT+ activist and campaigner Peter Tatchell claimed he was “arrested” and stopped by police after he staged a protest in the Gulf state.

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‘Everybody’s welcome here’ – Qatar World Cup chief on gay fans

Qatar’s World Cup chief has insisted LGBT+ fans will not be discriminated against during the tournament, told Sky News they can hold hands and are welcome to display affection and rainbow flags.

“All we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture,” Mr Al Khater said.

However England LGBT+ supporters’ group, Three Lions Pride, says it will not be traveling to the World Cup over fears it could make the local gay community “vulnerable to systematic, institutional and potentially vigilante abuse”.

Can England end 56 years of hurt?

Harry Kane

Having reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia four years ago, and the final of Euro 2020, hopes are high for Gareth Southgate’s squad despite their poor form in recent matches.

England haven’t won their last six games but are fifth favorites to win the tournament, according to bookmakers, behind Spain, France, Argentina and favorites Brazil.

They will be hoping to end the 56-year wait since England’s last World Cup win in 1966.

The Three Lions’ first game against Iran kicks off on 21 November at 1pm UK time, before they play the USA on 25 November at 7pm and Wales on 29 November at 7pm.

How will Wales fare at their first World Cup in 64 years?

Gareth Bale

When Wales last competed at a World Cup in 1958, the team made it all the way to the quarter-finals before losing to Brazil by a single goal scored by star striker Pele.

Rob Page’s team will be hoping for a repeat of Wales’ successful run at Euro 2016, where they reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Portugal.

Read more: Do Wales have a shot at World Cup victory?

Wales begin their World Cup campaign against the USA on 21 November at 7pm UK time, before playing Iran on 25 November at 10am and England on 29 November at 7pm.

Despite some bookmakers giving odds as high as around 400-1 for Wales to win the tournament, the country will be hoping actor Michael Sheen’s rousing motivational speech will inspire them to winning performances in Qatar.

Messi and Ronaldo’s last World Cup?

They are arguably the two greatest footballers in the history of the game, but a World Cup win has so far eluded both players during their glittering careers.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are likely to be appearing at their last World Cup in Qatar, having both made their first appearances at the tournament in 2006.

Lionel Messi

Messi, now aged 35, has said that this will “surely” be his final World Cup as he captains Argentina in their bid for the trophy.

And while Portugal captain Ronaldo, now 37 years old, has voiced an ambition to play at Euro 2024, the 2026 World Cup may be a step too far for a player currently struggling to get into the Manchester United team.

Ronaldo training in Portugal on November 14

What reaction will there be to Iran’s involvement?

With Russia banned from the World Cup over its invasion of Ukraine, there have been calls for Iran to be thrown out of the tournament after the country allegedly supplied weapons to aid Vladimir Putin’s attacks.

The Ukrainian football association asked FIFA to kick Iran out of the tournament over what it described as the country’s “systematic human rights violations” and “the possible involvement of Iran in the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine”.

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Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter also called for Iran to be excluded from the event in Qatar following widespread protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Aminiwho was detained for alleged violations of the country’s strict dress code.

FIFA has not agreed to the calls to throw out Iran and they will play in a group against England, Wales and the USA.

Which new stars will emerge?

Jude Bellingham
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England’s Jude Bellingham is tipped to star at the World Cup

While this year’s World Cup will star some of the most famous footballers on the planet, including Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the tournament usually sees lesser known stars establish themselves on the world stage.

England’s teenage midfielder Jude Bellingham is hotly tipped to be a potential breakout star in Qatar.

Aged just 19, Bellingham has already captained German side Borussia Dortmund and scored four goals in his first Champions League matches this season.

Barcelona’s teenage midfielder Gavi is also expected to have a big impact for Spain at this year’s World Cup.

The 18-year-old was awarded the Kopa trophy in October, which is given to the best player in the world under the age of 21.

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