British police ‘peacekeepers’ will travel to Qatar to keep supporters out of trouble during the World Cup with drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection all offenses that could lead to arrest
- British police ‘peacekeepers’ will attend Qatar World Cup
- Specialized UK agents will step in to ‘calm down’ fans at risk of breaking laws
- Britain sends a contingent of 15 police officers to help fans avoid confrontation
British police ‘peacekeepers’ are sent to Qatar to help rambunctious football fans avoid arrest at the World Cup.
Specialized British officers will step in to ‘calm’ supporters at risk of violating strict morality laws.
Drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection are all offenses that can lead to arrest in the harsh Islamic country.
British police ‘peacekeepers’ are deployed in Qatar to help football fans avoid arrest
Qatar is hiring hardened police officers from Pakistan and Turkey to maintain order during the tournament, which begins on Nov. 20.
And for the first time at a World Cup, Britain is sending a contingent of 15 police officers to help fans avoid a confrontation with security forces. These peacekeepers – known as “supporter engagement officers” – will act as middlemen to try to “de-escalate” situations.
Around 7,000 fans from England and Wales are expected to travel to Qatar and another 20,000 expat Britons live in the country.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts says supporters engagement officers will act as ‘smiling face’
British police chiefs have been talking to authorities in the Gulf state for months to plan a smooth tournament, including explaining to their colleagues that ‘noisy’ England fans are not necessarily aggressive.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council on football policing, said: “The Qataris have looked at different styles of policing and we have explained how to work with football fans and what we think will work.
“If you’re a local official and have a crowd of 1,000 people, drinking or not drinking, singing in another language, just because people are loud and bouncing up and down, doesn’t mean there’s aggression.”
Drinking alcohol outside fan zones, swearing and public displays of affection are offenses that could lead to arrest in Qatar
He said the role of the supporters engagement officers, who are all experienced British football police officers, would be to act as a ‘smiling face’ who can talk to fans before the trouble starts.
The chief constable stressed that British officers in Qatar would have no jurisdiction or powers of arrest and would only have an advisory role.
He added: ‘We expect the majority to be real football fans who go out to enjoy the matches. We certainly won’t be the morality police, but we’ll just be there to say “Calm it down” to fans who draw too much attention to themselves.
“It’s a very different culture and we’re eager to help fans who might accidentally cause trouble.”