No alcohol sales permitted at Qatar’s World Cup stadium sitesThe announcement comes two days before Sunday’s kickoff of the World Cup, the first to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.
Alcoholic beer will not be sold at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, world soccer governing body FIFA said on Friday, a last minute reversal which raised questions among some supporters about the host country's ability to deliver on promises to fans.
The announcement comes two days before Sunday’s kickoff of the World Cup, the first to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.
“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus 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,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement.
England’s Football Supporters’ Association said the decision raises concerns about Qatar's ability to fulfil its promises to visiting fans on “accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”
For years, Qatar’s tournament organisers have said that alcohol would be widely accessible to fans at the tournament.
“Some fans like a beer at the match, and some don't, but the real issue is the last-minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem — the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters,” 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 Gulf Arab state’s 3 million population.
Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, owned by beer maker AB InBev, was to 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 move forward due to circumstances beyond our control,” AB InBev said in a statement.
Someone at the company had summed the situation up in a pithier fashion. “Well, this is awkward…” read a post on Budweiser’s official Twitter account. The comment, subsequently deleted, was broadcast as a screengrab by the BBC.
Budweiser has been a World Cup sponsor since 1985, the year before the event was held in Mexico. For 2022, it has launched its biggest ever campaign, 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 typically boosts beer consumption and the Belgium-based maker of brands such as Stella Artois and Corona clearly want to profit from the millions of dollars it pays to be a sponsor.
However, it has said those profits will come less from consumption at the event's location but from fans watching on television.
“Tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.