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November 18, 2022

Qatar reneges on plan to allow beer sales at World Cup stadiums

The move comes just two days before the tournament is due to kick-off.

By James Beeson

Football fans will not be allowed to buy alcohol in or around World Cup stadiums in Qatar, FIFA has confirmed.

The move comes just two days before the competition – where Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Budweiser brand is a headline sponsor – is due to kick off in Al Khor.

In a statement issued on Friday (18 November), FIFA said the decision had been made to “focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues”. The body said sale points would be removed from stadium perimeters entirely but Bud Zero – Budweiser’s alcohol-free variant – would continue to be made available.

The move means FIFA is reportedly in breach of its multimillion-dollar sponsorship contract with AB InBev. Just Drinks has approached the group for comment.

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

Attendees of the tournament will not be able to buy beer and other alcoholic beverages at the eight stadiums hosting matches. Beer will continue to be sold at fan zones in Doha, the capital of Qatar, for the duration of the tournament, with prices reportedly set at QAR50 (US$13.72) for one 50cl glass of Budweiser.

Qatar – ordinarily a dry country except for select hotels in Doha – had appeared to have relaxed its strict laws around the sale of alcohol ahead of the tournament. This late change in policy, however, is understood to be at the behest of Qatar’s Al Thani royal family.

Qatari officials had already told Budweiser to move its concession stands outside of stadia to a “less prominent position” earlier this week, a move with which AB InBev said it had complied.

Earlier this month, BrewDog was criticised after it was revealed that its beers were on sale in Qatar, despite the Scottish brewer launching a vocal “anti-sponsorship” of the World Cup in the country.

In a widely-shared image on social media, BrewDog beers were seen on sale in Qatari riyal currency (QAR), accompanied by a poster bearing the logo of the Qatar Distribution Company (QDC).

In response, BrewDog said it would donate the profits from the shipment to Qatar to human rights charities, but refused to rule out sending further beer to the country.

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