The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) announced Friday that it will ban the sale of alcoholic beverages to fans in the vicinity of the eight stadiums of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, which begins on Sunday, after “discussions” with the host country.
FIFA did not indicate the reason behind this sudden decision, pointing out in his statement He pointed out that the sale of alcoholic beverages will be limited only to the fan areas, with “the removal of beer sales centers from the vicinity of the 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar.”
The FIFA statement added, “Following discussions between the authorities in the host country and FIFA, a decision was taken to concentrate the sale of alcoholic beverages inside the Fan Festival and other spaces designated for fans and facilities that have a license to do so.”
And he added, “The host country and FIFA will continue to work to ensure that stadiums and their adjacent areas are spaces that provide enjoyment, respect for all fans and provide a pleasant experience for all.”
Dozens of tents were set up to sell beer in the vicinity of the World Cup stadiums, ahead of the start of the opening match Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador.
Qatar expects more than a million fans to come to the country during the World Cup over the course of the 29-day tournament.
FIFA has a long-term sponsorship deal with brewing giant Budweiser, which is owned by AB InBev.
“The tournament organizers express their appreciation for AB InBev’s understanding and continued support of our shared commitment to serving everyone during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” the statement added.
The announcement comes two days before the start of the Qatar World Cup.
This is the first time that the championship has been held in a conservative Islamic country that imposes strict restrictions on alcoholic beverages and prohibits consumption in public places, according to Reuters.
Budweiser, the main sponsor of the World Cup and which has exclusive rights to sell the beer at the tournament, was to sell the alcoholic beer inside the ticketed area around each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each match.
A source told Reuters that the retraction of this position came after lengthy negotiations between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Budweiser and executives from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in Qatar, which organizes the World Cup.
The source added that alcoholic beverages will continue to be served inside the hospitality areas of the stadium.
There have been questions about allowing alcohol to be drunk in this year’s tournament since Qatar won the right to host the World Cup in 2010. Although Qatar does not completely ban alcoholic beverages like Saudi Arabia, it does ban drinking alcohol in public places.
Visitors cannot bring alcohol into Qatar, even from the airport duty free shop, and most cannot buy alcohol at the country’s only liquor store. Alcohol is sold in some hotel bars, where the price of a pint of beer is about $15.
The source indicated that Budweiser will still be able to sell alcoholic beer in the main fan area in central Doha, where it will sell for about $14 per pint.
The company, which kicked off the partnership with FIFA in the 1986 tournament, pays tens of millions of dollars each World Cup for exclusive rights to sell beer in stadiums, according to the Associated Press.