No alcohol in Qatar for the world cup, but try this glass of wine

By Tony Attwood

Although it was not made compulsory, we are now seeing that all the teams competing in the world cup finals which will interrupt the Premier League season this year, will be staying in the independent emirate of Qatar for the duration.

According to reports from Fifa, all the teams stay in officially recognised accommodation throughout their stay in Qatar.  Which in turn means that no team will have access to any alcohol.   All the hotels are “located within a radius of 10 km from each other,” a spokeslady said, preferring not to mention the no booze zone.

The hotels were selected by Fifa and then it seems each country was offered a choice of three hotels.  No one is revealing how much each room costs but villas are priced at around $2500 a night, while it is said that the best suite is $10,000 a night.   British taxpayers are paying for the England team as they always do.

Indeed this jolly jaunt to the country with one of the worst human rights reecords, also raises the question of how much public money the FA is currently sitting on.   We know that around October 2020 the FA borrowed £175m from the government through the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), so that it could survive financially.   That borrowing brought with it a commitment to “pay restraint.”

As revealed by Telegraph Sport, when the English Football League sought to borrow £75m through the same scheme last month, it was told it could only do so if its clubs agreed curbs on player pay rises and bonuses.  The clubs refused and as far as anyone has been able to find out, the loan is still outstanding.

There has been speculation that the FA has used some of the fund to pay performance bonuses to England players at Euros, and some of it to pay for the damage caused to Wembley and the surroundings, at the Euro final at which security was so inadequate that many people gained access to the stadium without a ticket.

It is certainly well documented that at the last world cup, the England squad were handed millions of pounds of public money in bonuses, and Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee, has repeatedly asked that the Treasury and FA “be transparent” about the uses taxpayer money is put to.  But seemingly without success.

Much of the money that the FA has apparently been able to lay its hands on has come from the Covid Corporate Financing Facility which was intended as a loan to companies that had made a contribution to the British economy.   Tottenham Hotspur got a £175m loan at 0.5% interest.  A deal settled today would have an interest rate closer to 5% than 0.5%.

Back with the world up England have persuaded their hosts to turn some of the local beach (or desert as it is often called) into a private area for the club.

England will be staying in the Souq Al Wakra hotel, where authorities have confirmed there will be no alcohol, but there will be video games for the players.

Interestingly on my computer where I followed up this story via the Swiss newspaper Blick the article concluded with the words

“You might also be interested in Legendary wines.  Discover the secrets of the best Chateauneuf-du-Pape.”

While on there was the announcement that, “We all have people in our lives who always go above and beyond – and now is the perfect time to celebrate them!

Our official wine partner, Santa Rita, has released the third episode of its Today’s Heroes campaign, which champions those, from fans to players, family to friends, who make a difference in your life…

“Whether they’re doing something special on the pitch for Arsenal, or improving your life away from the field, Santa Rita are recognising those who show compassion, look out for each other and demonstrate real community spirit.

“Join Santa Rita in raising a glass to today’s heroes!”

But presumably not on England duty.