How beer is keeping Socceroos fans away from the FIFA World Cup

Australia appear to have a dip in supporters travelling to the Qatar World Cup with one factor put down to the nation's strict rules on alcohol consumption and its controversial human rights record. (Getty Images)
Australia appear to have a dip in supporters travelling to the Qatar World Cup with one factor put down to the nation's strict rules on alcohol consumption and its controversial human rights record. (Getty Images)

The Socceroos will head to this month's football Qatar World Cup with the lowest contingent of fans for any of their six campaigns - and we can blame Aussies' love of beer for the drop-off.

FIFA's controversial decision to award Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 tournament – the first World Cup to be held in a Muslim country - has met with a lukewarm response from the green and gold army.

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The party atmosphere at previous World Cups is likely to be missing, with alcohol consumption strictly controlled in line with local laws, customs and beliefs.

Many fans are also uncomfortable with Qatar's human rights record and are staying away in silent protest.

Warren Livingstone, founder of the Australian Fanatics supporters' group, confirmed numbers were down compared to previous World Cup tours.

"This World Cup is like no other in a variety of ways and that presents a number of challenges," he told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"The laws in Qatar are obviously different to what fans may encounter in places like Germany and Brazil.

"We always respect the local laws wherever we are and this will be no different.

"You can still have a beer but they will be in designated areas and in keeping with local laws and customs.

"This is also a very compact tournament in terms of travel.

"All 32 teams are basically in the one area so it will back-to-back matches for the first fortnight.

"You won't get the travel you got in previous World Cups but you will be able to cram in more football.

"We understand some Australian fans may want a different experience, but this trip is probably more for the football purist than the football tourist."

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Sydneysider Jamie Davidson falls into the 'football tourist' category.

He and a group of mates attended the 2006 World Cup in Germany and backed up for Russia 2018, experiences he said were "two once-in-a-lifetime moments".

"We did discuss going to Qatar but just didn't get the feel it will be the same as previous tournaments," he said.

"World Cups are not just about the football; they're about seeing the country, meeting the people and enjoying what the host nation has to offer.

"And for most of us, that includes meeting in a bar or pub for a beer or two in between watching the Socceroos.

Australian football fan Jamie Davidson (pictured right) won't be visiting the Qatar World Cup in 2022. (Image: Supplied)
Australian football fan Jamie Davidson (pictured right) won't be visiting the Qatar World Cup in 2022. (Image: Supplied)

"Most people acknowledge and respect Qatar's laws on the consumption of alcohol are strict and that's played a part in them giving this World Cup a miss."

The Fanatics' website reads: "Drinking alcohol in Doha is limited to official FIFA Live Sites, international hotel bars and some restaurants.

"We will, of course, have the same camaraderie of previous years and social events during the tour…(but) this tour will be more football focused than any previous FIFA World Cup tour."

Livingstone added: "It wasn't easy for Socceroos fans to organise their trip as we were among the last teams to qualify.

"Compare it to something like the 2023 Ashes where the dates and venues are known well in advance. We are booked out a year before the first ball is bowled.

"But like all our previous World Cup trips, I'm confident Qatar will be a wonderful experience for fans - both inside and outside the stadium."

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