2 Days Before World Cup Begins, an Abrupt Ban on Beer

Beer will no longer be allowed in stadiums after sudden U-turn from host Qatar
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2022 7:05 AM CST
Qatar Abruptly Bans Beer From World Cup Stadiums
Ads for Budweiser are seen at a hotel hosting a major bar for the beermaker in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Two days before the opening ceremony of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has stunned fans with a decision to ban beer sales at stadiums despite Budweiser's $75 million sponsorship deal with FIFA, world soccer's governing body. The snap decision suggests FIFA "may no longer be in full control of major decisions related to its event," the New York Times reports. FIFA confirmed the move in a statement Friday, saying that after "discussions between host country authorities and FIFA," a decision was made to do away with beer sales in "stadium perimeters" and focus on sales in the official FIFA fan zone and "other fan destinations and licensed venues." ESPN reports that the move followed last-minute pressure on FIFA from Qatar.

"There is no impact to the sale of [non-alcoholic] Bud Zero, which will remain available at all Qatar's World Cup stadiums," FIFA said. Budweiser hasn't officially commented on the move, which follows an order last week for its beer tents to be shifted to locations in stadiums away from where crowds would pass. A tweet from Budweiser saying, "Well, this is awkward" was later deleted, the BBC reports. Qatar, like its neighbor Saudi Arabia, strictly controls alcohol, but it agreed to allow the sale of alcohol in stadiums when it launched its controversial World Cup bid, reports the AP. Budweiser was to have been the only alcoholic drink available to most fans in stadiums, though the sale of beer, wine, and spirits is expected to go ahead in luxury areas.

In a statement, the Football Supporters' Association said that while "some fans like a beer at a game and some don't," the "real issue is the last minute U-turn" and the lack of clarity from organizers. "If they can change their minds on this at a moment's notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport, or cultural issues," the FSA said. The AP notes that Qatar is an "autocracy governed by a hereditary emir, who has absolute say over all governmental decisions." Sunday's opening ceremony will be followed by the tournament's first game, Qatar vs. Ecuador. (More 2022 World Cup stories.)

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