In an about-turn, FIFA said on Friday, Nov. 18, that beer will not be sold to fans around any of Qatar's eight World Cup stadiums, following discussions with the host country.
Announcement made two days before
The announcement comes just two days before the kick-off of the World Cup on Sunday, Nov. 20.
According to The Guardian, organisers had originally promised beer would be available in match venues and in fan zones, and that the beverage would be reasonably priced.
However, in its statement on Nov. 18, FIFA said otherwise in an announcement:
"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."
Bud Zero, which is alcohol-free, will remain available at all Qatar World Cup stadiums.
According to The Guardian, beer would still be available at matches but only in "hospitality boxes", where the cheapest suites are almost £20,000 (about S$32,737) a match.
The decision was reportedly taken after Qatar, as the host nation decided that "everyone inside World Cup stadiums had to feel comfortable", and that this would not be the case if fans were seen drinking alcohol or turned up drunk, reported the British newspaper.
A source had also told Reuters that a large number of fans from across the Middle East and South Asia would be attending the World Cup, and that for these fans, "alcohol doesn't play such a large role in the culture".
The World Cup 2022 is the first to be held in a Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.
Budweiser, which has exclusive rights to sell beer at the tournament, reportedly pays US$75 million (S$103 million) every four years to be the World Cup's official alcohol sponsor.
There appeared to be some support for the reversal on social media, which pointed out that Qatar was a Muslim country where alcohol is prohibited.
Don't get the beer outrage at all. Qatar is an Islamic country, alcohol is prohibited, seems fine. Having a beer is not a human right— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) November 18, 2022
Well done to #Qatar for standing by its Islamic and Arab principles.— Robert Carter (@Bob_cart124) November 18, 2022
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Islam and guests shouldn't have expected Qataris to just ditch their legal system just to appease western criticism.#Qatar2022 #Islam #WorldCup2022 pic.twitter.com/kAGUUGdHc6
Others, however, questioned Qatar's ability to uphold their promises as host nation for the World Cup, especially after some fans might have already purchased tickets for the tournament start date.
Alcohol isn’t everything, but to international fans at a football tournament it’s a major part of the experience.— TC (@TransferChecker) November 18, 2022
Qatar banning alcohol 2 days before kick off, after previously assuring it would be available, once people have already paid for travel/tickets, is a total disgrace.
Qatar just reversed their decision to sell alcohol which has cost FIFA their $75M sponsorship with Budweiser.— ELYYT (@ELYYT_) November 18, 2022
That’s what the FIFA organization deserve after deciding to put the World Cup in Qatar in the first place.
Top images via FIFA Facebook and Budweiser Facebook