FOOTBALL fans have been taking over Manama's streets as sheesha cafŽs set up outdoor overhead projectors to broadcast the Euro 2012 matches.
Residents of the Capital Governorate claim they have been disturbed until late hours of the night because of noise made by sports fanatics, who block access to residential areas as some coffee shops illegally place chairs and tables outside.
The Manama Municipal Council has demanded that authorities take immediate action against the violators following complaints that some shops illegally serve sheesha to under-18s during the matches.
It has launched a clampdown on such cafŽs in co-ordination with the Manama Municipality, who was initially reluctant to fine the small businesses, which have experienced an increase in revenue since the month-long European Championship began.
"The council wants us to take action based on general violations without mentioning the violating outlets against which we can take immediate action," said municipality director-general Shaikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
"We will send our inspectors, who are off-duty during matches, to check whether violations are being committed or not.
"Action against severe violations will be taken, but we can't be harsh against cafŽs for minor offences, especially when huge numbers of people are enjoying matches."
However, his comments were dismissed by council services and public utilities committee chairman Fadhel Al Qaidoom, who said the Euro 2012 should not be an excuse to rob people of their peace of mind and allow underage smoking.
"People go out and see the streets being occupied by chairs and tables as overhead projectors are set up outside in several areas like Manama, Hoora, Gudaibiya and Adliya and the list goes on," he said. "The excuse that we will let them do whatever they want because they are enjoying the match has to stop and municipal inspectors have to immediately start doing real work and fine those responsible for violations.
"People are complaining as they are being robbed of their peace of mind and there are underage people in groups sitting outside smoking sheesha, because owners of the violating outlets don't want to be blamed, as they are ready with the regular excuse that in their premises they only offer it to those above 18 and those outside tend to share."
Mr Al Qaidoom criticised municipal officials for turning a blind eye to sheesha violations because they enjoyed smoking at such cafŽs.
"Today, we may have 20 cafŽs violating the law and after a few months when the European leagues resume we will see more cafŽs committing violations, because the moment no action is taken everyone will start capitalising on the situation."