Football & Management

A Dry World Cup: Qatar Bans Beer Sales at Stadium

The controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup seems to be unending as the gulf nation bans the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums.  

Since it won the bid to host the tournament over a decade ago, the country has come under severe scrutiny and criticism primarily around workers’ rights and the living conditions of tens of thousands of migrant workers who are building the various facilities for the event.  

With same-sex relationships illegal in the country, there have also been calls for Qatar to change its laws and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Critics also want the authorities to give the next generation of Qatari women more opportunities in the game. This depends on investment in pitches, training sites, and a development pathway for women to become professionals.

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The latest criticism however, is coming from fan advocacy groups and lovers of the sport across the world on the country’s decision today not to allow the sale of alcohol at the various stadiums hosting the games. 

Qatar announced the decision after late-night negotiations over whether vendors could sell beer at the stadiums during the tournament which begins on Sunday.

FIFA announced that it has made a decision “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,” after discussions with the host country authorities.

The ban on beer is the latest and most dramatic change to an evolving alcohol plan that has for months increased tensions between FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, and Qatar, a conservative Muslim nation where the government tightly controls the sale of alcohol.

But it also will complicate FIFA’s $75 million sponsorship agreement with Budweiser; infuriate fans already chafing at restrictions, costs and inconveniences around the event; and once again leave organizers scrambling to adjust in the final hours before the tournament begins.

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The decision coming after several months of increased tensions between FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, and Qatar, a conservative Muslim nation where the sale of alcohol is tightly controlled will also complicate FIFA’s $75 million sponsorship agreement with Budweiser; and further infuriate fans already grouchy at restrictions, costs and inconveniences around the event; and once again left the organizers scrambling to adjust in the final hours before the tournament begins.

Responding to the news, Budweiser says it was working with organizers “to relocate the concession outlets to locations as directed.” 

While, fans can purchase alcohol at the official fan zones during the competition, FIFA, which has faced years of blistering criticism for its decision to bring its showpiece championship to Qatar, may no longer be in full control of major decisions related to its event. 

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