Qatar officials have declared that they will make “no exceptions” for England fans who try and smuggle drugs into Al Bayt Stadium during the upcoming World Cup.
News of the country’s no-nonsense policy on drugs comes as cocaine has been mentioned as a link to the increasing number of incidents at football games in the UK. In July last year, the Euro 2020 final held at Wembley Stadium saw thousands of drugged and drunk supporters pile onto the streets of London, causing havoc and chaos throughout the capital. Over 20 ticketless fans were arrested by the Metropolitan Police on the night, as hoards of determined supporters stormed the turnstiles to get a peek at the match.
Fans considering taking drugs to Qatar have been forewarned that if they are caught in possession of illegal substances—including cocaine—they should expect some pretty severe consequences.
For example, Law No. 9 of 1987 on Control and Regulation of Control and Regulation of Narcotic Drugs and Dangerous Psychotropic Substances states that people who smuggle drugs into the country face 20 years imprisonment and a hefty fine ranging between 100,000 (£21,349) and 300,000 riyals (£64,047).
Repeat offenders are also at risk of serving a life sentence in prison, or possibly even the death penalty. The UK government has also cautioned tourists about the strict laws in Qatar and the security measures that are in place.
On the website, it states: “There is zero tolerance for drug-related offences. The penalties for the use of, trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even residual amounts) are severe. Punishment can include lengthy custodial sentences, heavy fines and deportation.”
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who is the National Police Chief Council’s lead for Football Policing, confirmed that UK’s police force would be working directly alongside Qatar officials to snuff out any smugglers attending the tournament. “Any fans seen to be misbehaving could also be subject to a football banning order on their return to the UK, as well as being arrested and potentially charged for offenses committed in Qatar,” he told the Daily Star.
Just last month, the government announced that fans who are sentenced for selling or taking cocaine at football matches could face a five-year ban.