Beer sales at the eight World Cup stadiums in Qatar would be prohibited, FIFA declared two days before the start of the largest athletic tournament in history.
The decision was reached “after consultations between host nation authorities and FIFA,” according to a statement from FIFA.
Sales are still allowed at licenced fan activities and in-stadium opulent suites that also sell alcohol, wine, and specially crafted World Cup 2022 champagne.
The decision, according to FIFA, will guarantee that “all fans have a joyful, respectful, and pleasant experience in the stadiums and surrounding areas.”
In Qatar, a country in the Persian Gulf wealthy in petroleum and home to a Wahhabi community that practises a stringent interpretation of Islam, alcohol sales are rigorously regulated. Alcohol use in public is restricted to specific hotels and eateries.
The World Cup is being held in the Middle East for the first time since it began in 1930, and the selling of alcohol within the stadiums has been the subject of lengthy negotiations between Qatar and FIFA.
When Qatar earned the right to host the games in 2010, it initially committed to allowing alcohol sales, and it reiterated that vow when it signed the deal.
FIFA and Qatar agreed to allow alcohol sales inside stadiums but not at concession stands in September. The regulation became more stringent last week when the alcohol booths were relocated to even less noticeable locations outside the stadium perimeters, forcing many spectators to walk far from the action in order to make a purchase.
Fans and analysts are concerned that FIFA doesn’t have complete control over its trademark event after FIFA compelled another host nation, Brazil, to amend its national rules around stadium alcohol sales in 2014.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by Budweiser to get the title of official booze sponsor for World Cup tournaments.
According to the Associated Press, the corporation, a longtime partner of FIFA, is now in the process of renewing its agreement for the next World Cup.
In a tweet that was shortly removed, Budweiser remarked, “Well, this is embarrassing.”
According to FIFA, all World Cup venues will continue sell Budweiser’s non-alcoholic Bud Zero.
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