“Well, This Is Awkward” – In Last Minute Flip-Flop, Qatar Bans Beer Sales At World Cup
With just 48 hours until the greatest sports event in the world begins, the organizers of the Qatar World Cup reversed course on allowing beer sales within the perimeter of stadiums, upending existing plans among FIFA, the host nation and Budweiser, and crushing the hopes of thirsty football fans.
FIFA’s pick of Qatar, a tiny state in the Gulf with a population of 3 million people and a limited soccer history, to host the 2022 World Cup was controversial from the outset when the selection was made in 2010.
And now, after more than a decade of speculation surrounding how alcohol sales would be handled in a conservative Muslim country during the tournament (along with Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBT community), it appears the previous agreements are all moot now.
Earlier, Budweiser, the brand, tweeted, “Well, this is awkward…”
The tweet was subsequently deleted.
It was previously decided that World Cup sponsor Budweiser would be able to sell beer to fans at stalls around the stadiums, as long as they were in less prominent areas.
On Friday, however, FIFA confirmed that alcohol would be restricted to corporate hospitality areas at the eight venues – meaning ordinary matchgoers will have to go without a tipple.
“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, ” said FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) November 18, 2022
A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Budweiser’s parent company, said some of the company’s plans for the World Cup “cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control.”
Fans were caught completely off guard.
“Some fans like 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 organizing committee toward supporters,” the U.K.-based Football Supporters’ Association said.
“If they can change their minds on this at a moment’s notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”
German fan Daniel Schwestka, 30, from Dusseldorf, said: “Football without beer is not football.”
“I knew it was going be difficult to drink here. But how can they ban beer at the actual stadiums. It is ridiculous.”
The only place alcohol can now be bought in or around stadiums will be in the hospitality boxes, which start at $22,450 per match.
Those lucky enough to get a seat in a box are promised ‘soft drinks, beers, Champagne, sommelier-selected wines, and premium spirits’ both ‘before, during and after’ the game.
According to Sky News, the stadium beer ban is said to have been imposed following pressure from the Qatari royal family.
Sepp Blatter, Fifa’s former boss who was forced to resign shortly after the Qatar World Cup was announced amid a corruption scandal, has even admitted the tournament was a ‘mistake’.
Fri, 11/18/2022 – 13:33