Pubs split on whether to boycott Qatar World Cup

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Undecided: Pubs in two minds about boycotting World Cup (Getty/ FG Trade Latin)
Undecided: Pubs in two minds about boycotting World Cup (Getty/ FG Trade Latin)

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Nearly half of pubs (48%) would boycott the Qatar World Cup, which kicked off yesterday (20 November), research by The Morning Advertiser has revealed.

Of the 110 operators who participated in the poll​, 48% voted that they would boycott the tournament with 53 votes, and 52% voted that they would not, at 57 votes. 

This comes after a spate of public backlash at the World Cup taking place in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, flogging is an acceptable form of punishment, and 6,500 workers are said to have died while building stadiums in the Gulf state. 

Licensee of the Mustard Pot in Leeds reversed her decision to show the tournament, after selling more than 70 tickets, as it “felt like the right  

Nicola Moxham had not put much thought into broadcasting the World Cup​​ when planning to show it six months ago. However, she then read into Qatar’s record with human rights abuses, which she found “pretty horrific”.   

Deciding to U-turn

The West Yorkshire site had planned to broadcast the tournament on a huge projector in the Christmas tent, as well as in their function room and on a separate TV. Breakfast and beer were also included in the £15 ticket price.  

However, all 75 tickets that had been sold (out of the 100 available), have been refunded.  

The Mustard Pot is not the only pub boycotting the tournament. It’s joined by Chester sites​​ the Liverpool Arms and the Commercial Hotel & Bar, who will not show the World Cup due to concerns about LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar.  

However, the pub is also expected to boost winter trade,​ at a time when the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy costs are squeezing operators’ budgets. 

One pub raring to take on the World Cup is Admiral Taverns site, the Dartford Sports Bar, in Kent. 

Major plans

The pub, operated by Chris Michaelmas and April Reeves underwent a £370,000 renovation that saw it change its focus from being a nightclub to becoming a sports bar​​. 

Licensee Michaelmas said: “We have had the revamp and raring to go for the new season and the World Cup. We were packed for the FA Community Shield and for the Women’s Euro final – and we were really busy throughout the tournament. We were fortunate to have all the same customers who watched it come back for the final."

With 23 screens and a pub split into four main zones, the pub hoped to capture a large World Cup audience. Its courtyard garden includes private booth seating areas with six screens available outdoors.  

Michaelmas said: “We’re planning on putting a marquee lid over the whole courtyard where we can get about 150 people in there.” 

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