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FIFA World Cup 2022: Qatar government plans to overhaul laws to stop prosecution of fans for minor offences, CHECK OUT

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FIFA World Cup 2022: World Cup fans in Qatar caught committing minor offences, such as public drunkenness, will escape prosecution under plans developed by authorities in the conservative Muslim host nation, a diplomat and a person familiar with Qatari briefings said to foreign police, to Reuters. Follow FIFA World Cup 2022 updates on InsideSport.IN

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FIFA World Cup 2022: Qatar government plans to overhaul laws to stop prosecution of fans for minor offences, CHECK OUT

While the policing strategy for the competition, which starts in less than two months, has not yet been finalized, organizers have told diplomats and police from qualifying countries that they intend to show flexibility for relatively minor infractions, the sources said.

The signals reflect the delicate balance that Qatar, a small Arab state where many follow the same puritanical school of Sunni Islam as neighboring Saudi Arabia, is trying to strike between respecting religious traditions and accommodating the influx of more than a million visiting soccer fans . .

Qatar’s World Cup organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, did not respond to a request for comment.

“Increased leniency pleases the international community, but comes with the risk that it could upset conservatives at home,” said another Western diplomat.

Organizers have not publicly clarified their approach to policing, and many embassies have warned fans they face punishment for behavior that would be tolerated elsewhere.

“Remember, while in Qatar, you are subject to local laws,” American diplomat Morgan Cassell said this in a YouTube video.

According to Qatar’s legal code, freedom of expression is restricted, homosexuality is illegal, and sex outside of marriage is prohibited. Public drunkenness can carry a prison sentence of up to six months, and some things considered benign elsewhere, such as public displays of affection or wearing revealing clothing, can be grounds for arrest.

FIFA World Cup 2022: Qatar government plans to overhaul laws to stop prosecution of fans for minor offences, CHECK OUT

“Arguing with or insulting others in public can lead to arrest. Activities such as protests, religious proselytizing, advocating atheism and criticizing the government of Qatar or the religion of Islam can be prosecuted here. This also applies to your social media posts,” Cassell said.

LAWS RELAXED

But organizers already intend to relax Qatar’s strict laws restricting the public sale of alcohol and will allow beer to be served near stadiums a few hours before kick-off.

Informally, they have also told police from European countries that have qualified for the tournament and some diplomats in Doha that they expect police to show flexibility in enforcing other laws, such as drunkenness or public disorder.

“Minor offenses will not result in a fine or arrest, but the police will be asked to go to a person and ask him or her to comply…A person who removes a T-shirt in public will be asked to put your T-shirt back on. There is a kind of tolerance,” said the person familiar with Qatar briefings by several European police who are sending officers to Qatar.

While Qatari authorities have not confirmed this approach, special legislation coming into force during the tournament gives Qatar’s World Cup security chief – known as the Gold Commander – considerable leeway to tackle breaches of Qatari laws.

It says the commander, in coordination with authorities, can make decisions, including how to deal with “actions contrary to the provisions of the applicable laws of the country”.

Police are planning a tougher response when the safety of people or property is threatened, World Cup organizers told diplomats in a briefing a few months ago, several diplomats said.

FIFA World Cup 2022: Qatar government plans to overhaul laws to stop prosecution of fans for minor offences, CHECK OUT

Fans who commit such acts, such as using flares or fireworks that could cause injury, or being involved in a fight – even where there is no serious injury – can expect to face fines and the cancellation of their ‘Hayya Card’, the permission to enter Qatar and obtain access to stadiums, the source said.

It was not clear whether fans who lose their Hayya cards would be given a deadline to leave the country or would be detained for deportation.

Security is just one challenge facing Qatar, the first country in the Middle East to host a soccer World Cup and the smallest country to do so. With a population of less than 3 million people, it will host an influx of 1.2 million fans – an unprecedented challenge for the Arab Gulf state.

To help police efforts, organizers have invited each qualifying country to send at least four police officers to be on the ground in Qatar during the World Cup, the source with knowledge of police plans said.

They will be based in an Interior Ministry command center and around the capital Doha to advise their Qatari counterparts.

“They will monitor it as they see fit … Our job is to say ‘This is how we think you should handle our fans because that’s what gets the best results,'” said Mark Roberts, Chief Constable of Cheshire Police and UK’s head of football.

FIFA World Cup 2022: Qatar government plans to overhaul laws to stop prosecution of fans for minor offences, CHECK OUT

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