The start of the 2022 World Cup is less than a month away, and American ticket holders are likely already preparing for liftoff to Qatar.
But before soccer fans leave the United States, the government would like them to review the safety and security guidelines compiled by the U.S. Embassy in Qatar and sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The State Department recently tweeted about these resources and cited them in its “This Week at State” newsletter.
The embassy’s guidelines are a stark reminder of how different Qatar is than the U.S. — and how quickly World Cup visitors could get on the wrong side of the law if they’re not careful.
Here are a few key takeaways from the “cultural considerations” section of the U.S. embassy’s guide to visiting Qatar:
- Dress codes for men and women are common in Qatar. Visitors should generally cover their “shoulders, chests, stomachs and knees.”
- Qatar criminalizes homosexuality. The U.S. embassy in Qatar encourages members of the LGBTQ community to do additional research before traveling to the World Cup.
- Alcohol is legal in Qatar, but highly regulated. Public intoxication can lead to severe punishment, including deportation.
- In Qatar, it is illegal to have sex outside of marriage. For this reason, unmarried pregnant women or victims of sexual assault should contact the U.S. embassy before seeking medical help. Married pregnant women need to have their marriage certificate with them in case they need emergency prenatal care.
At least one World Cup traveler, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, has already run into problems due to confusion about Qatar’s policies. The former NFL star tweeted on Oct. 13 that he was stopped at the airport and reprimanded for being involved in a public display of affection.
Johnson will be one of Fox Sports’ World Cup commentators, according to World Soccer Talk.
The 2022 World Cup begins on Nov. 20 and ends on Dec. 18, as the Deseret News previously reported.