Football: Qatar forbids selling alcohol at World Cup stadium sites

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Alcoholic beer will not be sold at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, world soccer governing body FIFA announced on Friday, a last minute reversal which raised questions among some supporters as to the host country's ability to deliver on promises to fans.

The announcement comes two days before Sunday’s kickoff of the World Cup, the first to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.

“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 FIFA spokesperson said in a statement.

Qatar, the smallest country to host a World Cup, is bracing for the expected arrival of 1.2 million fans during the month-long tournament, which makes for more than a third of the Gulf Arab state’s 3 million population.

Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, owned by beer maker AB InBev, was to exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game.

“Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control,” AB InBev said in a statement.

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

The World Cup typically boosts beer consumption and Belgium-based makers of brands such as Stella Artois and Corona naturally want to profit from the millions of dollars it pays to be a sponsor. However, it is said the profits come less from consumption at the event’s location than from fans watching on television.

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