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2022 World Cup: Stadium Beer Sales Nixed by Qatari Officials

Just two days before the start of the World Cup, Qatari organizers have banned the sale of alcoholic beverages at all of the tournament’s eight stadiums.

The stunning reversal, first reported by British newspaper The Times, comes after FIFA and Qatari officials were reportedly engaged in late negotiations over whether beer would be sold.

“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,” FIFA announced. The decision, the governing body said, would mean “removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.”

Supporters will still be able to purchase alcohol at designated fan zones throughout the month-long competition, but would no longer be able to buy alcoholic beverages during matches. Attendees that have a corporate hospitality ticket to matches will be able to get alcohol in specific suites inside the various stadiums, but those tickets are currently priced at above $20,000. 

FIFA did say that the decision will have no impact on the availability of non-alcoholic drinks from one of its lead sponsors, Budweiser.

"There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar's World Cup stadiums," FIFA added.

“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.”

Alcohol consumption is not a crime in Qatar, though it is illegal to drink or be drunk in public. Visitors are not allowed to bring alcohol into the country, and are not permitted to shop at the nation’s lone liquor store located on the outskirts of Doha. They are allowed to purchase alcohol at a handful of licensed hotels and clubs.

FIFA’s decision also may complicate its $75 million sponsorship agreement with Budweiser, according to The New York Times. The beverage company tweeted, “Well, this is awkward,” after the news was announced, but the post has since been deleted.

“The tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” FIFA added in its own statement.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns the beer brand, commented on FIFA’s decision to Sky Sports saying in a statement, “Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control.”

The 2022 World Cup is set to begin on Sunday. 

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