Muslims angered at the prospect of rowdy revelers descending onto Qatar for the 2022 World Cup games have been told to make a pilgrimage to Mecca during the tournament, the National in Abu Dhabi is reporting.
FIFA's selection of Qatar has already sparked controversy both locally and abroad. Though many international critics have drawn attention to the tiny nation's less-than-stellar soccer pedigree and soaring summer temperatures, some locals say they are concerned with the impact an influx of partying foreigners may have on the conservative society.
"As a choice, they could go [to Mecca]. There's no obligation to stay in this country, is there?" said Ijaz Ahmad, the British head of Islamic culture at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs' Fanar Center told the National. "They can go on the Umrah or they can go on holiday to London."
FIFA officials have reportedly assured soccer fans they will circumvent Qatar's conservative alcohol laws by setting up special "fan zones" where drinking will be permitted during the games, but the concern hasn't been ignored by locals. "Islam is quite clear that we shouldn't be drinking alcohol," Amhed said. "Drinking 16 pints of lager doesn't do anyone any good."