FIFA: No alcohol sales permitted at Qatar’s World Cup stadium sites

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DOHA: Alcoholic beer will not be sold at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, the world football governing body FIFA announced on Friday.

The announcement comes two days before the World Cup begins on Sunday, the first to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol consumption in public.

“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, it was decided to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations, and licensed venues, removing beer sales points from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement.

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

“Tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and ongoing support of our joint commitment to catering to everyone during the FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.

Long-term negotiations between FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Budweiser, and executives from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which is organizing the World Cup, resulted in the policy change, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“A larger number of fans are attending from the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol does not play such a large role in the culture,” according to the source.

“The thinking was that the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience for many fans.”

According to the source, alcohol will still be served inside the stadium hospitality zones.

According to the statement, Budweiser will sell non-alcoholic beer throughout the stadium grounds.

Neither Budweiser nor the SC responded to a request for comment from Reuters.

Since Qatar won the hosting rights for this year’s World Cup in 2010, there has been speculation about the role alcohol will play. While Qatar is not a “dry” state like neighboring Saudi Arabia, drinking alcohol in public is prohibited.

Visitors are not permitted to bring alcohol into Qatar, even from the airport’s duty-free section, and most are not permitted to purchase alcohol from the country’s sole liquor store. Alcohol is sold in some hotel bars, with beer costing around $15 per half-liter.

According to the source, Budweiser will continue to sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha for about $14 per half pint. Some other fan zones will sell alcohol, while others will be alcohol-free.

“Fans can go wherever they want without feeling awkward.” Previously, this was not the case at stadiums,” the source said.

Source: Reuters

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