Alcoholic beer will not be sold in World Cup stadiums, says FIFA | CBC News

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In a reversal, alcoholic beer will not be sold in Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, world soccer governing body FIFA said in a statement on Friday.

The announcement comes two days before the start of the World Cup on Sunday, the first to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is prohibited in public.

“Following discussions between the authorities of the host country and FIFA, the decision was made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing beer outlets from the perimeters of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium”. a FIFA spokesperson said in the statement.

The Football Fans’ Association of England said the decision raised concerns about Qatar’s ability to deliver on its promises to visiting fans on “accommodation, transport or cultural issues”.

For years, Qatar tournament organizers have said that alcohol would be widely accessible to fans at the tournament.

“Some fans like a beer at the game, and some don’t, but the real problem is the last minute U-turn that speaks to a larger problem: the organizing committee’s complete lack of communication and clarity towards the fans.” . the association said in a statement on Twitter.

Qatar, the smallest country to host a World Cup, is bracing for the expected arrival of 1.2 million fans during the month-long tournament, more than a third of the Persian Gulf state’s 3 million people.

long term sponsor

Budweiser, a major sponsor of the World Cup, owned by brewer AB InBev, would exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums, three hours before and one hour after each game.

“Some of the planned stadium activations cannot go ahead due to circumstances beyond our control,” AB InBev said in a statement.

Budweiser has been a sponsor of the World Cup since 1985, the year before the event was held in Mexico. By 2022, it launched its largest campaign ever, with activities for Budweiser and other brands in more than 70 markets and at 1.2 million bars, restaurants and retail outlets.

The World Cup often drives beer consumption, and the Belgium-based maker of brands like Stella Artois and Corona clearly wants to profit from the millions of dollars it pays to be a sponsor.

However, he has said those gains will come less from consumption at the event venue than from fans watching on television.

Budweiser’s Twitter account tweeted: “Well this is awkward…” without elaborating on Friday. The tweet was later deleted.

The reversal of that policy comes after long-term negotiations between FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Budweiser and executives from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which is organizing the World Cup, he said. a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters. condition of anonymity.

The SC did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment and FIFA did not confirm Infantino’s involvement.

“It’s attended by a larger number of fans from all over the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play as big a part in the culture,” the source said.

“The thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create a pleasurable experience.”

Non-alcoholic beer will be sold.

Champagne, wine, whiskey and other spirits are still expected to be served in the luxurious hospitality areas of the stadiums.

Budweiser will sell its non-alcoholic beer throughout the stadium for $8.25 a pint, according to the statement.

Questions have swirled around the role alcohol would play in this year’s World Cup since Qatar won hosting rights in 2010. While not a “dry” state like neighboring Saudi Arabia, consuming alcohol in venues public is illegal in Qatar.

Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, is among eight tournament stadiums where the sale of alcoholic beer was banned. (Carl Recine/Reuters)

Visitors are not allowed to bring alcohol into Qatar, even from the duty-free section of the airport, and most are not allowed to buy alcohol at the country’s only liquor store. Alcohol is sold in some hotel bars, where beer costs around $15 a pint.

Budweiser will continue to sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in downtown Doha, the source said, where it is offered for about $14 a half pint. Alcohol will also be sold in a few other fan zones, while others are alcohol-free.

“Fans can decide where they want to go without feeling uncomfortable. In stadiums, it wasn’t like that before,” the source said.

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