Following Qatar’s ban on alcoholic beverages in its stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, two widely-circulated photographs claiming that football fans were sneaking alcoholic in non-alcoholic brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to Qatar have gone viral on social media.
Qatar earlier mentioned that alcohol would not be sold at any of the eight stadiums hosting the World Cup. And except at designated fan parks and other licensed venues around Doha, fans are not able to drink alcohol while in the stadium.
Through a reverse image search for the photographs on Google, Fact-Check Ghana found those images to be misleading and not related to the ongoing World Cup in Qatar.
A number of posts on the internet on Sunday, November 20, 2022, suggested that fans were sneaking alcohol into the stadium (here, here, and here). One such post was found on Everything Soccer, a soccer page on Facebook and reads, “Some supporters have obviously found the technique to drink alcohol in stadiums in Qatar.”
The second photograph being circulated now is one that has been in circulation since November 2015. It is the image of an official unwrapping a Pepsi can and has appeared many times on the internet. In many instances, it was related to a beer smuggling incident in Saudi Arabia, not the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The reports show how smugglers attempted to get 48,000 cans of beer disguised as Pepsi into Saudi Arabia but were caught by customs officials. That stories came with videos showing how an official unwrapped a Pepsi Can and found it to be Heineken. The viral pictures of an official unwrapping a Pepsi can were from this incident.
Also, one of the posts suggested that the Customs in Qatar intercepted some 800,000 cans of Heineken branded as Pepsi. The same viral image was added to the post to give it the needed attention. There have not been any reports in the ongoing FIFA World Cup of Customs at Qatar intercepting 800,00 cans of Heiniken.
Though Fact-Check found the second image of the coca-cola to be a more recent photograph, it appears to have been online before the 2022 World Cup commenced. In June 2022, the image was uploaded on Twitter and thus will be misleading to attribute it to the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The writer of this report, Victoria Enyonam Adonu, is a Fellow of the Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship at the Media Foundation for West Africa.
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