Just days ahead of the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA have informed travelling fans that alcohol will not be available in any of the country’s eight stadiums.
A largely Muslim country, the sale of beer is strictly controlled in Qatar, although some concessions were expected to be made for the flagship tournament.
However, the governing body have now confirmed that those with general tickets will not be able to buy alcohol anywhere inside the stadium.
Instead, the consumption of booze will be exclusively reserved for those that have stumped up the £19,000 for corporate hospitality packages.
Those supporting their countries can buy a beer before the game in specially-designated fan zones, although a pint will cost a cool £11.60.
The World Cup gets underway on Sunday when the hosts take on Ecuador, and supporters have been angered about the late change announced this morning by FIFA.
“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 spokesperson for the governing body said.
Budweiser, who pay FIFA £63 million every four years for exclusive sponsorship rights, tweeted ‘well, this is awkward’ in response to the news. That tweet has since been deleted.
They will, however, still be allowed to sell Bud Zero, the non-alcoholic beer, within the host stadiums, while Coca-Cola’s position as official soft drinks sponsor remains unchanged.
Drink It In
It’s the latest in a raft of strategies designed to take alcohol as far away from the stadiums as possible. Organisers have already been forced to move specially-designated beer tents – which are exclusively in place for FIFA guests and dignitaries – away from the front of each venue.
It’s the most recent in a long line of missteps and controversies that have dogged the World Cup, and it’s particularly strange that the decision has been taken after thousands of fans have arrived in the country….or maybe it’s not that strange at all, given that the 2022 event is expected to be one of the worst-attended World Cups in history.
Just as curiously, FIFA have in the past lobbied national governments for a change in the law regarding booze bans ahead of the World Cup, but they have chosen not to exercise that this time around.
The sale of alcohol has been banned at Brazilian football matches for many years, however FIFA managed to persuade the-then president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, to overturn the prohibition for the 2014 World Cup in the country.
“Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them,” decreed FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.
“Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant, but that’s something we won’t negotiate. The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.”
Current FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, has been living in Doha since the start of 2022, so it’s no surprise that he’s been particularly quiet on the subject….