Qatar bans beer from stadiums on eve of World Cup

JEDDAH: Authorities in Qatar executed a U-turn on Friday and banned the sale of alcohol in football stadiums just 48 hours before Sunday’s opening match in the World Cup.

The month-long tournament, sport’s greatest spectacle, is the first to be held in an Arab or Muslim-majority country. The Qatari organizers have said for several years that alcohol would be widely accessible to fans.

Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, has an exclusive multimillion-dollar contract to sell beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game.

However, football’s world governing body FIFA said on Friday: “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 source close to the discussions said: “A large 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 thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience.”

Budweiser will still sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha, the source said.



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