Doha November 18, 2011 World Cup stadiums in Qatar will not sell alcohol, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Friday, prompting some fans to question whether the host nation was able to keep its promises to fans in a last-minute change.

The announcement comes two days before the start of Sunday’s World Cup, the first of its kind in a conservative Muslim country where alcohol is strictly controlled and eating in public is prohibited.

“Following discussions between local authorities and FIFA, it has been decided to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing beer outlets from around the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement.

The England Football Supporters’ Association said the decision raised concerns about Qatar’s ability to fulfill its promises to visiting fans on “accommodation, transport or cultural matters”.

For years, tournament organizers in Qatar have said alcohol will be widely available to fans at the tournament.

“Some fans like beer at the game, some don’t, but the main issue is the last-minute turnaround, which speaks to a wider problem – a total lack of communication and transparency from the organizing committee to fans,” the association said in a statement on Twitter.

By hosting the World Cup, the tiny country of Qatar is gearing up for the season, with 1.2 million fans expected to come.

Budweiser, the main World Cup sponsor owned by brewer AB InBev, had to sell alcoholic beer only in the ticketed perimeter around each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game.

“Some planned stadium activities cannot go ahead due to circumstances beyond our control,” AB InBev said in a statement.

Someone in the company summed up the situation in a very interesting way. “Well, this is a shame…” read a post on Budweiser’s official Twitter account. The comment was later deleted, distributed by the BBC as a screengrab.

Budweiser has been a sponsor of the World Cup since 1985, a year before this event was held in Mexico. For 2022, it has launched its biggest campaign yet, for Budweiser and other brands in more than 70 markets and in 1.2 million bars, restaurants and retail outlets.

The World Cup traditionally boosts beer consumption, and Belgian-made brands like Stella Artois and Corona want to profit from the millions of dollars it pays to become sponsors.

However, he said that these profits come less from the consumption of the place where the event is held, but from the fans watching on television.

“The organizers of the tournament appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continued support of our collective commitment to deliver for everyone during the FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.

Long term negotiations

The stadium change comes after long-running negotiations between FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Budweiser and executives from Qatar’s top bid and heritage committee (SC), which hosts the World Cup, a source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters. Anonymity.

The SC did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment and FIFA did not confirm Infantino’s involvement.

“A large number of fans from the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol does not play a big part in the culture, are attending,” the source said.

“The thinking was that for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not make for a pleasant experience.”

Alcohol will continue to flow freely in the stadium’s VIP suites, which FIFA’s website advertises as beer, champagne, selected wines from Sommel and premium spirits.

Budweiser will sell its non-alcoholic beer throughout the stadium grounds for $8.25 a pint, according to the release.

In the year Questions have swirled about the role of alcohol at this year’s World Cup since Qatar won the hosting rights in 2010. While not a “dry” country like neighboring Saudi Arabia, drinking alcohol in public is illegal in Qatar.

Visitors cannot bring alcohol into Qatar, even in the airport’s duty-free section, and most cannot buy alcohol in the country’s only liquor store. While alcohol is sold in some hotels, beer costs $15 per pint.

Budweiser will still sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha, the source said. Alcohol is sold in some other fan zones, while others are alcohol-free.

“Fans can decide where they want to go without feeling uncomfortable. In stadiums, this was not the case before,” he said.

Reporting by Andrew Mills in Doha, Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels and Manasi Pathak in Doha; Writing by Andrew Mills; Edited by Jan Harvey and Christian Radnage

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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