Alcohol banned from World Cup stadiums in 11th-hour U-turn

Doha, Nov 18 (EFE).- Sales of alcohol in and around stadiums hosting World Cup matches in Qatar will be banned, Fifa said in a statement Friday, just two days before the tournament kicks off.

Qatari authorities and Fifa had agreed that alcohol sales would be allowed at designated areas at the stadiums, despite its consumption and sale being strictly controlled in the conservative Muslim nation.

“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 statement said.

Alcohol-free Bud Zero will “remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums,” the statement added.

Fifa also thanked Drinks giant AB InBev, the world’s largest brewing company which owns Budweiser, a World Cup sponsor for over three decades, for its “understanding and continuous support.”

It remains to be seen how the last minute U-turn will affect Fifa’s relationship with one of its leading sponsors.

In a since-deleted Tweet, Budweiser said, “Well, this is awkward”.

Alcohol consumption is highly restricted in the Gulf nation, and can only be consumed in some hotels and restaurants in the capital Doha.

The near total ban on booze has been relaxed for the duration of the World Cup, but it will not be available in supermarkets. Prices are expected to be over $13 for half a liter of beer, and a glass of whiskey will cost more than $40.

In order to cope with the tournament, hotels, ‘fan zones’ and stadiums have set up ‘happy hours’, although people will only be able to buy two beers at a time. EFE

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