England fans coping without access to alcohol at World Cup stadiums

England fans have said they are coping without access to alcohol at the World Cup stadiums.

But concerns were voiced by some supporters about the availability of food inside the Khalifa International Stadium for England’s opening game against Iran.

The sale of alcohol to fans at World Cup stadiums in Qatar was banned just two days before the tournament kicked off, with an exception made for corporate spectators.

Qatar, as hosts, were understood to be concerned about the impact of alcohol sales on fans for whom drinking is not part of the culture – not just Qataris but people from other parts of the Middle East and Asia more widely.

Solicitor Karen Bareham, 60, from Guildford, Surrey, said it was “so far so good” for her trip to Qatar.

FIFA World Cup 2022
England fans in Qatar (Peter Byrne/PA)

Asked if the alcohol stadium ban had affected her plans, she told the PA news agency: “A little bit, I literally haven’t had a drink yet, I’m not saying I’m shaking but there’s a lot of conversation about where can we get a drink, it’s part of the football culture and that is how it is.”

Ms Bareham added: “It is a change to what we would ordinarily do, but so far so good, and then we’ve jumped on some Wales tickets for later tonight, so it’s two games for us today and then do a bit of sightseeing.”

Paul Dawson, 52, from Newcastle, who arrived on a matchday shuttle flight from Dubai, said the alcohol stadium ban had affected his plans “a little bit”.

He added: “It’s not the end of the world, we’ll make up for it when we’re back in Dubai.”

Steve Petrou, 60, from London, said his experiences from a previous World Cup meant he arrived early at the stadium.

England v Iran
England fans ahead of the match (Adam Davy/PA)

But he said the food situation inside was “a bit bad” as there was “no hot food at all”.

Phil Smith, 56, from Sheffield, added: “Getting in was all right, the security was good, we got here very early so I don’t know how it would have been with volume.”

He gave the experience a seven out of 10, adding: “Drinks and food, total shambles.”

Mr Smith, speaking at half-time during England’s 6-2 win, added: “There was zero hot food before kick-off – they look like they’re doing hot food now but it’s too crowded to get to it.”

He said they went to visit the Al Bidda Park fan zone in Doha on Sunday and it “looked like a disaster waiting to happen” so they left.