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FIFA confirms beer ban around World Cup stadiums

Beer had been expected to be on sale at 2022 World Cup stadiums for ticket holders until Qatar’s U-turn

Roddy Cons
Beer had been expected to be on sale at 2022 World Cup stadiums for ticket holders until Qatar’s U-turn

Two days before the 2022 World Cup gets underway, Qatar has decided to ban sales of beer at stadiums and will now sell only non-alcoholic beer and other beverages. Qatar is still thought to be preparing an official announcement regarding the decision, which has been confirmed by an official who has remained unnamed.

Official FIFA statement: Focus on sale of alcoholic beverages at other venues

Later on Friday, FIFA released the following statement, attributed to a ‘FIFA spokesperson’, confirming the change.

“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus on the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.”

There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.

Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, pleasant and respectful experience for all fans.

The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”

The sale of alcohol a source of tension between FIFA and Qatar

The sale of alcohol has long been a source of tension between FIFA and Qatar. While alcohol is not banned in the Muslim nation, sales are closely controlled, with most alcohol bought and consumed in upmarket hotel bars, where it can be very expensive.

It had been expected that rules regarding alcohol sales and consumption would be relaxed somewhat for the duration of the tournament, particularly around stadiums. FIFA’s official fan guide states that “ticket holders will have access to Budweiser, Budweiser Zero, and Coca-Cola products within the stadium perimeter at the Brand Activation Areas three hours prior to kick-off when the gates open and one hour after the final whistle.”

Potential Budweiser World Cup sponsorship violation

The news is likely to provoke a violation of FIFA’s sponsorship agreement with Budweiser, who pay $75 million to be a main sponsor of the World Cup every four years. The beer brand had already seen the highest echelons of the Qatar state decide to move their stations to less prominent locations around stadiums, which now seems rather insignificant compared to this latest change of plans.

FIFA have, of course, come under fierce criticism for choosing Qatar as hosts of the 2022 World Cup. The nation’s human rights record, suppression of dissent, persecution of LGBTQ people and mistreatment of migrant workers are among a number of issues that have been highlighted by protestors against Qatar’s suitability as World Cup host.