Beer will not be sold inside stadiums during World Cup matches in Qatar, where alcohol is severely restricted, but FIFA said Saturday that drinking will be allowed in the stadium zone before and after games. The global body gave first details of beer sales after months of sensitive talks with authorities in the conservative Muslim Gulf state.
The issue is important for FIFA as beer-maker Budweiser has been a major sponsor for three decades while foreign fans have also questioned what to expect at the November 20-December 18 tournament. Qatar has predicted more than one million visitors for the World Cup.
A source with knowledge of the plans said beer stands would open in zones around stadiums when gates open for a match and close 30 minutes before each game starts. The source said stands would reopen for a short time after the game.
FIFA did not confirm times but a spokesperson said it had focused on “catering for those who wish to enjoy an alcoholic drink while being respectful towards the local culture”.
In a statement to AFP, the spokesperson said “ticket-holders” would get access to beer “within the stadium perimeter prior to kick-off and after the final whistle.”
Inside stadiums, only Budweiser’s zero-alcohol beer and soft-drinks would be available, the spokesperson added. Coca-Cola, another huge sponsor, has the sole right to sell non-alcoholic drinks at the eight stadiums to be used for the first World Cup in a Muslim nation.
Alcohol is a sensitive topic at stadiums around the world. In England, most Premier League clubs allow beer sales inside stadiums but fans cannot drink in sight of the pitch. While alcohol is not banned in Qatar as it is in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, it is only sold in about 35 international hotels and restaurants. Foreign residents can buy alcohol in government stores. Drinking in public is illegal.
Budweiser’s parent company, AB InBev, did not comment on FIFA’s plans but has in the past said it was looking for “respectful” ways to sell its product at the Qatar World Cup. Beer has traditionally been sold at fan zones throughout the day at previous World Cups.
But the FIFA spokesman said it would only be available from 6.30 pm at the FIFA Fan Festival zone in Doha. Qatar’s World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, have not given details of alcohol sales in the fan zones it is organising.
It tested beer sales at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019 when a glass of beer cost about $7 at a special zone on the edge of Doha. Only a few thousand foreign fans were present.
Industry sources have said that fans may have to buy tickets to get access to the local non-FIFA zones where beer is sold at the World Cup.
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