In a reversal, alcoholic beer will not be sold at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, world soccer governing body FIFA said in a statement on Friday. The announcement comes two days before Sunday’s kickoff of the World Cup.
“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 the statement.
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. “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.
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 organising the World Cup, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“A larger number of fans are attending from across the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play such a large role in the culture,” the source said. “The thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience.”
Alcohol will still be served inside the stadium hospitality zones, the source added.