Postcard from Qatar: Having a wonderful time thanks to the alcohol ban at the World Cup…

England supporters cheer on their team at the World Cup. Credit: Alamy
England supporters cheer on their team at the World Cup. Credit: Alamy

One Mailboxer is having a lovely time at the World Cup, which may be because of the absence of p*ssed up morons. Also: Gareth Southgate needs to catch on quicker…

Get your views in to


Slow Southgate
Blimey, caught up on the letters page since England played. Full range of opinions, won’t even enter the political and social arena feels like we’ve entered the land of twitter.

What I would say about Mr Waistcoat is there are two main opinions
He’s a decent human being with a social conscience and that should be good enough for an England manager.
He’s a safety first manager, who at key times in games struggles to make the right changes tactically.
I’m in the second camp, ever since he got us to the the Euro final and fell short at the key time it has always boiled my piss. As we started to lose control of the game we watched Chiellini and Bonucci stroll about the half way line dictating play.

Southgate with 3 pacy forwards on the bench waits until the 70 th minute to introduce Saka then the 99th minute to introduce Grealish (a man who can put his foot on the ball and beat a player and help bring England up the pitch) to then wait until 120 mins to utilise the pace of Sancho and Rashford. The pace that the two ageing and tiring Italian Centre backs would have feared. When asked why he didn’t introduce them earlier his words were prophetic “we didn’t want to risk it”!!!!

Fast forward to the England V USA match it was clear within 5 minutes that the USA 4-3-3 shape was built to box in Englands Rice and Bellingham and stop the ball reaching them. They would pressure Stones but leave Maguire free to carry the ball. For nearly the entire game Southgate failed to react to the tactic, I won’t even bother with the Foden dilemma!!!

If Southgate is to go further in this tournament he has to improve his in game tactics and react quicker.
P. Didi


Postcard from Qatar
If anybody is interested in a report on the ground from Qatar 2022…well here it is.

So far so good I would say with everyone having lots of fun in a great atmosphere created by all the very different nationalities mixing together in great spirits. The free transport and ticketing / Hayya application have both been top notch after a couple of early issues which now seem to be resolved.

I went to the England v US game on the free Stadium Express Bus service and due to the fact I avoided any Bud Zero nonsense I spent a grand total (not counting the QAR600 ticket) of ……QAR10 on a bottle of water! A nice change from the cost of attending a United game where the beer, taxi, food and other essentials can be excessive to say the least. I am beginning to think that maybe not having a load of beer before the game is not such a bad thing after all. Who knew??!!

This is my first World Cup experience and I am fortunate to have been working in Qatar for the previous couple of years leading up to the tournament, otherwise I wouldn’t have made the effort to travel and attend. I do however have friends here that have travelled over for the event and they are also overwhelmingly positive of the experience. We spent last night in a non-FIFA (beer available) fan zone mixing with Brazillians, Serbians, Swiss, Portuguese and a whole host of nationalities with a great atmosphere and some cracking football to watch.

The highlight so far has to be the Argentina v Mexico game at the unbelievable Lusail stadium with the atmosphere created by both sets of fans amazing. As I sat with the Mexican contingent my ears are still ringing 3 days later. Great stuff!!

As ever with WCs the group stages can be cagey but I think we are up and running now with some of the most unpredictable results happening on a daily basis and tonight we head to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium for ENG v Wales and obviously hopeful of a better game, atmosphere etc. than the US performance.

It’s been a privilege to be here mixing with the fans from other nations who have a very different approach to attending games than your stereotypical English fan. Travelling to watch England accompanied by the usual morons has never, ever appealed to me but this feels different and maybe the lack of excessive alcohol has had a positive effect.
Plato – MUFC

Peak time for watching on the box
I’m glad to read you’re enjoying your dose of morning football on the other side of the Atlantic. 5am is a bit early, but it’s lovely creeping out of bed before the sun is up to the smell of coffee you smartly put on a timer the night before. As the silent night turns to bird calls to the sun and each other, there is nothing better. For matches in person, there is nothing better than under the lights, but what do other Mailboxers think when it comes to watching on television? We have NFL on during the day over here, but nothing beats wrapping up your sports for the day by ten in the morning if you ask me. I’d love to hear what Mailboxers from around the globe like about their own unique routine. I’d even like to hear how Americans on the west coast are dealing with kickoffs an hour after midnight! Surely that can’t be enjoyable!
Niall, Annapolis


Ts & Cs apply
The first five minutes of Jonathan Pearce’s commentary is like when you ring BT to renew your broadband and they have to read the terms and conditions out to you. It’s an astonishing stream of consciousness, lungs of a whale that man.
SC, Belfast (Just renewed my broadband)


All comes out in the wash
When the inevitable happens and F365 does their winner and loser article, I think the biggest loser should be Qatar. This whole event was a sport washing attempt to make people think the country was a great place to visit. If they hadn’t hosted the cup, there would probably be many people who agree. But with all the documentaries, news stories and fan experiences – they’ve left bare just how horrible the situation is. Not sure there’s that many people who are planning a vacation in the near future. Not the best use of 220 billion.
Dave Hill ( not bitter about the US perfomance)


Ref relief
I don’t think we’ve given enough credit to the match officials so far – we’ve discussed how lovely Olivier Giroud is (and my wife agrees), we’ve pondered Rabiot, we’ve looked at Denmark with Haarland, we’ve asked Barry obvious questions and he still finds inventive and insightful ways to answer them – but – isn’t it great we aren’t talking about the referees?

I want to bottle that and bring it back to the Premier League where most post-game discussion appears to be mostly about the officials and VAR. Long may it continue that the perception is that officials are given a very difficult job and perform it to the best of their very considerable abilities, much in the same way that we couldn’t score those goals; we couldn’t referee that game.
Steve, Los Angeles
PS Our Spanish is improving. We refuse to listen to those muppets on Fox and we’ve elected to watch the Spanish-language coverage on Univision. It’s a happier experience.


Nothing of note to really say but just want to vent at how offensively innocuous I find the football coverage of ITV to be, whatever the tournament/competition.

It all started when I believe I heard co-commentator Ally McCoist discuss his shock at the omission of Luis Suarez from the Uruguay starting line up, only to mention how below average he thought he was in the previous game (I think I heard that right).

I get the sense that John Champion was more perturbed at the comments of McCoist rather than the most exciting moment of the match, the pitch invasion/rainbow flag protest. JC and the ITV cameras made it quite clear that they would follow FIFA directives and focus solely on the football. Champion also stated with some glee that the protestor was being “frogmarched out of the stadium”. They simply weren’t getting involved.

Andros Townsend’ adding “he’s taken the defender for a bagel” to the football lexicon and I close my case.

Still, worst things I suppose.
P.S. Also, Rodrigo Bentancur wearing black boots was a revelation.

Qatar World Cup Credit: Alamy
Qatar World Cup Credit: Alamy

Qatar and boycotting Australia
Stuart, your comments about boycotting the women’s World Cup in Australia because of alcohol and the availability of pornography was truly comical whatabouttery of the finest. A great laugh.
Dan, London


…I know I am not as well lived or travelled as Stuart (only 3 countries myself), but it seems like he has purposely missed the point with his call to arms for a 2023 boycott!
The same point missed by many defenders of the Qatari World Cup.

You are right Stuart, it is illegal to drink, drug or be overtly sexual on Qatar. It is highly frowned upon and (borders on legality) to remove your shirt and swing it over your head whilst shouting “Football’s f**kin’ coming home!!” and trying to launch a firework from your arse crack. These are the laws of the land and, whilst they may not be perfect from a Westerner’s perspective, must be respected and adhered to as part of the nature of a tournament designed to rotate the hosting around the world. If these were the only laws, people would be miffed but accepting (I think FIFA and their sponsors care more about the alcohol than the majority of attendees).
However, these are not the only laws that are at odds with Western values You forgot that it is illegal to be homosexual in Qatar in 2022. People, without a choice to who they find sexually attractive, can be imprisoned, abused, beaten or killed for their sexual orientation.
This is not a “poison” that Qatar have chosen not to allow. It is a basic human right denied to any persons who may be who they are in plain sight.

The World Cup invites people from 32 nations (plus many more) to come together for a festival of football and to revel in the joyous occasion of trying to determine the best team on the planet.
It is marketed and demonstrated by FIFA as a bastion of inclusivity.
Therefore it should not now, or ever again, be given to a country that punishes people solely for the person they chose to love!
Conor, London (Australia doesn’t force people to drink, Qatar forces people not to be gay)


…Stuart, Qatar is a monarchy with a very very weak elected consultative legislative body that has no actual power. So when you, and many others, have stated the falsehood that Qataris have chosen their own rules you are completely and utterly wrong. A select few based only on who they were born too define all laws and societal norms. You would think that a man with the perspective of living in 5 countries would have noticed/thought of this.

Also the Australian government did not recently permit a girl to identify as a a cat. Instead of parroting unsubstantiated and untrue right wing conspiracy theories you would be better served doing even the tiniest amount of actual research before exposing yourself as a buffoon.

It’s also pretty fascinating that all the people in the mailbox stating that others should shut up and have no moral issue with a Qatar World Cup never actually defend the laws and practices of Qatar. Instead they go to the classic straw man logical fallacy to try to shift the conversation because they have no logical ground on which to stand. Might be an interesting thing to do some self reflection on.
Greg, Tampa


…One relevant point about Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup that I have not seen mentioned anywhere: the decision was made in 2010. While this does not seem like a long time ago, I think it is worth highlighting that the United States only federally legally recognized same-sex marriages in 2015. USA was the favorite to win the 2022 WC bidding process. If we review the other countries who had bid to host the 2022 WC, South Korea still does not legally recognize same-sex marriages. Japan still does not legally recognize same-sex marriages. Australia began legally recognizing same-sex marriages in 2017.

It is fair to mention, of course, that Qatar outright considering homosexuality illegal is more extreme than failing to legally recognize same-sex marriages. However, it is also fair to mention the number of violent attacks and murders which take place in the United States, both those specifically targetting LGBTQ+ groups as well as those aimed at other groups, or aimed at nobody in particular. The odds of “something bad” happening to a World Cup tourist in the United States is worse than something happening to a World Cup tourist in Qatar.

I really hope this does not come across as “whatabouttery”. I am not suggesting whatsoever that Qatar is an acceptable choice for a WC host because other countries also have/had problems. Qatar should not have been selected for many obvious reasons, all of which have been mentioned in the Mailbox + elsewhere already. It is entirely fair and valid to scrutinize and criticize and highlight Qatar’s shortcomings with regard to LGBTQ+ rights. It just isn’t the primary reason why FIFA delegates should have voted differently in 2010.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

Read more: Ian King – England and Gareth Southgate need a statement World Cup win just a week after their last one

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