Bye, Bye, Beer!
Qatar bans sale of beer in World Cup stadiums
Qatar's hosting of the FIFA World Cup has already sparked a number of controversies and now added to the list is a beer sale ban at all eight stadiums in the tournament.
Qatar is a conservative Muslim country with stringent alcohol restrictions, but it accepted FIFA's requirements to sell alcohol in the stadiums when it put in a bid to host the World Cup. However, once the bid was accepted, the topic drew tension between Qatar and FIFA, The New York Times reports.
Just last week, organizers were required to move all their beer stations to less visible locations within the stadiums to make it a less prominent part of the event at the request of the Qatari royalty. However, in negotiations, it was decided that beer would not be sold at all in the stadiums.
In a statement, FIFA said, "a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations, and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from ... stadium perimeters." Two issues have been raised from this arrangement: FIFA's Budweiser sponsorship and fan access to alcohol.
The event is sponsored by Budweiser, a beer brand, that pays millions to have exclusive rights to sell at the World Cup, reports The Associated Press, and the event is a large brand promotion opportunity. Budweiser's parent company acknowledged this, saying some plans "cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control."
FIFA also said that alcohol would still be served in certain fan destinations and luxury stadium suites, which a large majority of fans won't be able to access. Still, many fans want stadium beer. As Budweiser put it in a since-deleted tweet, "Well, this is awkward."