During the World Cup, beer will no longer be sold to spectators inside stadiums after Fifa was forced to do an embarrassing U-turn by Qatar’s ultra-conservative leaders.
Just two days before Qatar’s opening match against Ecuador, the nation decided against allowing fans to purchase alcohol from stands outside the stadiums.
Senior officials stated that Fifa had come under pressure from Qatar. A statement confirming the end of sales would be released on Friday afternoon. As of right now, there have been no instant objections made regarding the sale of alcohol in fan zones.
Potential policy changes resulting from contracts might be extremely expensive for Fifa. Every four years, Budweiser invests over $75 million to sponsor the World Cup. The brewer tweeted about the news on Friday morning.
The Football Supporters’ Association of the UK stated: “Some fans like a beer at a game and some don’t, but the real issue is the last minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem: the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters.
“If they can change their minds on this at a moment’s notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfill other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”
Concerns about tournament infrastructure
Due to the controversy, numerous water fountains at airports, metro stations, and stadiums are still turned off, raising questions about whether Qatar is prepared for the World Cup. In addition, road crews are working quickly to patch potholes, and in the main fan zone, beer costs of £12 have outraged some spectators.
On Friday morning, discussions over alcohol sales were still going on, but neither Fifa nor the Qatar Supreme Committee had yet issued a formal statement.
Qatar is a dry country where alcohol is typically only found in certain hotels. It indicates that the country’s leadership has expressed worry at the highest levels.
The only area of stadiums where alcohol will now be offered is in hospitality boxes, which cost about £19,000.
One of Fifa’s largest sponsors, Budweiser, had already been advised to move its product’s stadium booths to less noticeable areas.
‘Best possible consumer experience’
In response to an earlier request to move its outlets, AB InBev told Sky News: “AB InBev was informed on November 12 and are working with Fifa to relocate the concession outlets to locations as directed.
“We are working with Fifa to bring the best possible experience to the fans. Our focus is on delivering the best possible consumer experience under the new circumstances.”
It has also been disclosed that Fifa is charging up to £960 per day for hospitality packages to enjoy its “fan festival” in Qatar and avoid the sweltering heat.
Gerdine Lindhout, Fifa’s head of experiential marketing and promotion, said of the fan festival: “This is the best place to be when you are not in the stadium. It will be a multidimensional, festival-like experience. It’s not just about football, it’s about gaming, lifestyle and amazing food. We have decided to go huge in Doha.”
On the question of heat she added: “It is definitely hot but there are enough areas where there is a shadow and we have enough refreshing beverages so I do not see a problem there. People have to use their logical minds – and dress for the occasion. Wear your shorts, wear something light and enjoy some refreshing beverages.”