DOHA, Nov 18 (Reuters) – In the event of a spill, alcoholic beer will not be sold at World Cup stadiums in Qatar, world soccer governing body FIFA said in a statement on Friday.
The announcement comes two days before the World Cup kicks off on Sunday, 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 the host country authorities and FIFA, it has been decided to concentrate the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing the beer outlets at the stadium perimeters of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.” a FIFA spokesperson said in the statement.
Budweiser, a major sponsor of the World Cup, owned by brewer AB InBev, was to sell alcoholic beer exclusively within the ticketing perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each match.
“Tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continued support of our shared commitment to keep everyone happy during the FIFA World Cup,” the statement read.
The reversal of this policy comes after long-term negotiations between FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Budweiser and leaders of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which organizes the World Cup, said a source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters. condition of anonymity.
“Most of the fans come from the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play such a big role in the culture,” the source said.
“The idea was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience.”
Alcohol will still be served inside the hospitality areas of the stadium, the source added.
Budweiser will sell its non-alcoholic beer inside the stadium, according to the statement.
Neither Budweiser nor the SC responded to Reuters’ request for comment.
Questions have swirled around what role alcohol will play at this year’s World Cup since Qatar was awarded the hosting rights in 2010. Although not a “dry” state “Like neighboring Saudi Arabia, drinking alcohol in public places is illegal in Qatar.
Visitors cannot bring alcohol into Qatar, even from the duty-free section of the airport, and most cannot buy alcohol from the country’s only liquor store. Alcohol is sold in bars in some hotels, where beer costs around $15 a pint.
Budweiser will still sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha, the source said, where it is on offer for around $14 a half-pint. Alcohol will also be sold in some other fan zones while others are alcohol-free.
“Fans can decide where they want to go without feeling uncomfortable. In stadiums, that wasn’t the case before,” the source said.
Reporting by Andrew Mills; Editing by Jan Harvey and Christian Radnedge
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