Alcohol will not be sold to fans at the World Cup’s eight stadiums in Qatar after Fifa changed its policy at the last minute – however, alcohol will still be sold in other venues.
Alcohol was set to be served “in select areas within stadiums,” despite its sale being strictly controlled in Muslim Qatar under normal circumstances.
This will no longer happen but those in corporate areas of stadiums at the tournament will still be able to purchase alcohol.
Budweiser, a major sponsor of FIFA, is owned by beer maker AB InBev and had exclusive rights to sell beer at the World Cup.
“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,” said a statement from world football’s governing body.
“There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.
“Host country authorities and Fifa will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.
“The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Budweiser posted a message on Twitter on Friday saying, “Well, this is awkward” before the post was later deleted.
An AB InBev spokesperson said that they could not proceed with “some of the planned stadium activations” because of “circumstances beyond our control.”
Under normal circumstances it is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public in Qatar. British nationals have been detained under this law, usually when they have come to the attention of the police on a related matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour.
Drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine up to QAR3,000.
Alcohol is available only at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.
But during the World Cup these rules have been relaxed as per the conditions FIFA imposes on host countries.