Qatar set to ease rules for World Cup violators – Reuters

Anyone who commits minor offenses will escape prosecution, report says

FIFA World Cup host Qatar is drawing up plans to reduce penalties for fans who commit minor offenses such as public drunkenness at the upcoming tournament, according to a report.

A diplomat and a person close to the Qatari briefings told Reuters that while the police strategy for the event which was due to start in November has not yet been finalized, organizers have told diplomats and police from participating countries that they would show flexibility on minor offences.

“Minor offenses will not result in a fine or arrest, but the police will be instructed to go to a person and ask them to comply…Someone who removes a T-shirt in public will be seen ask to put his T-shirt back. There is a kind of tolerance”, said the person familiar with the briefings sent to several European police forces.

The report will be seen as further proof that Qatar is trying to strike a balance between local religious traditions and welcoming visiting football fans from different cultural climates.

A Western diplomat noted that “increased leniency appeals to the international community, but carries the risk that it could antagonize conservatives at home,”however, with many embassies advising traveling supporters that they could be punished for behavior tolerated elsewhere.

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Under Qatari law, homosexuality is illegal, sex outside marriage is prohibited, and public drunkenness can be punishable by up to six months in prison.

Public displays of affection or wearing revealing clothing can also be grounds for arrest, and US diplomat Morgan Cassell warned in a YouTube video: “Remember that while you are in Qatar, you are subject to local laws.”

“Arguing or insulting others in public can lead to arrest. Activities such as protests, religious proselytizing, advocacy of atheism, and criticism of the government of Qatar or the religion of Islam can be criminally prosecuted here. This also applies to your social media posts,” Cassell also said.

Organizers already intend to relax laws that limit the public sale of alcohol that could stimulate public drunkenness, with beer served near stadiums hours before kick-off.

And although Qatari authorities have not confirmed this approach, it is believed that special legislation during the tournament will give Qatar’s World Cup security chief – known as Gold Commander – leeway. to attack “acts in violation of the provisions of the laws in force in the country”.

However, police plan to take tougher action whenever the safety of life or property is at risk, and World Cup organizers told diplomats as much during a briefing a few months ago, according to several diplomats. .

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For fans who launch flares and fireworks that could cause damage or get involved in fights, they can expect to be hit with fines and the cancellation of their used “Haya card”. to enter Qatar and access stadiums, a Reuters source said. .

To help with security, organizers have invited each qualifying nation to send at least four police officers to patrol the grounds in Qatar during the World Cup, according to the source familiar with police plans.

“They’ll police how they see fit… Our job is to say ‘That’s how we think you should treat our fans because that’s what gets the best results,'” said Cheshire Police Chief and Britain’s leading football police officer, Mark Roberts.

The police will be based around the capital Doha to assist their Qatari counterparts during the tournament, which runs from November 20 to December 18, as well as at an Interior Ministry command centre, according to Reuters.


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