DOHA, Qatar – Beer is being rolled out at World Cup stadiums.
In a surprising shift, Qatari officials have decided that the only drinks that will be sold to fans at matches during the month-long World Cup will be alcohol-free.
The decision, which came two days before Sunday’s tournament opener, was has been confirmed On Friday by FIFA owner of the tournament.
FIFA announced that “following discussions between the host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been taken to focus on the sale of alcoholic beverages at the FIFA Fan Fest, other fan destinations and licensed venues”. She added that the decision would mean “removing beer selling points from the vicinity of the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium in Qatar.”
The ban on beer is the latest and most dramatic change in Advanced alcohol plan For several months, this heightened tensions between FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, and Qatar, the conservative Islamic country where the sale of alcohol is tightly controlled. But he will also have a $75 million FIFA sponsorship agreement with Budweiser; pissing off fans who are already reeling from the restrictions, costs, and inconveniences around the event; Once again, the organizers are left struggling to adapt in the final hours before the start of the tournament.
But it also indicated that FIFA, which has faced years of intense criticism for its decision to bring the remarkable tournament to Qatar, may no longer be in full control of key decisions related to the event. A decade ago, for example, the soccer body put pressure on Brazil Just for the opposite result: invoking the Brazilian government to change a law to allow the sale of beer in stadiums, a practice that had been banned in Brazil since 2003.
In Qatar, FIFA acquiesced to the host nation’s demands. That raised the possibility that other promises that run counter to local laws and customs – including on issues such as press freedom, street protests and the rights of LGBTQ visitors – were not as strong as Qatar and FIFA said.
The Football Supporters’ Union, a UK-based fan group, criticized the decision.
“Some fans like to have a beer at a match and others don’t, but the real problem is the last-minute detour which speaks to a bigger problem – the complete lack of communication and clarity from the Organizing Committee towards the fans,” the group said in a statement.
“If they can change their mind about this at any moment, without any explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will deliver on other promises on housing, transportation or cultural issues.”
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The ban on alcohol consumption appears to only apply to fans attending matches. Beer and other drinks, incl Official FIFA champagne And a range of wines selected by the sommelier, will still be available in the luxurious stadium suites reserved for FIFA officials and other wealthy guests.
The beer ban comes a week after an earlier decree relocated dozens of Budweiser-branded red beer tents to more discreet locations across the eight World Cup stadiums, far from where most match fans pass.
World Cup staff have been informed that the move followed security advice. But the belief that the change originated with Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani – brother of the ruling Emir of Qatar and the most active member of the royal family in the day-to-day planning of the tournament – suggests that it is not negotiable.
One of the officials involved in the process said that FIFA officials agreed because they were concerned that if they did not do so they risked seeing the Budweiser franchises closed entirely.
Qatar has grappled with the topic of alcohol since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the rights to host the World Cup in 2010. Alcohol is available in the country, but sales are strictly controlled. Most visitors, even before the World Cup, were only allowed to buy beer and other alcoholic beverages in upscale hotel bars at unusually high prices.
World Cup organizers seemed keen to mollify Budweiser and its parent company, Belgium-based multinational Anheuser-Busch InBev, saying, “The tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continued support of our shared commitment to meeting everyone’s needs.”
Representatives for Budweiser, who had suggested last week that they had been surprised by previous changes Qatar made to their World Cup sales strategy, did not respond to requests for comment.
The company’s only public statement was a mockery of its Twitter account, which wrote, “Well, that’s embarrassing…” The tweet was deleted after about 90 minutes, and just before FIFA’s statement was released.
Last week, Qatari organizers attempted to downplay the escalating tension over beer sales, a World Cup fixture for generations, by saying that operational plans were still being worked out, and changes were still being made to the “location of certain fan areas.” Its statement also noted. That “flow times and number of flow destinations” remained the same across all eight stadiums.
Budweiser, which pays FIFA $75 million per four-year World Cup cycle, said it was working with organizers to “relocate franchise outlets to locations as directed.”
The newer plan means that the brewery’s red tents may now not be visible throughout the stadiums; Unbranded white alternatives are being considered. The company’s famous red-hued fridges will likely be replaced with blue ones, which is the color associated with Budweiser’s non-alcoholic brand, Budweiser Zero.
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