Qatar bans alcohol at World Cup stadiums after late reversal
World Cup organisers have banned the sale of alcohol around stadiums in Qatar after last-minute showdown talks, FIFA announced on Friday.
First reported by British newspaper The Times, FIFA and Qatari organisers were engaged in late negotiations over whether beer would be sold at the stadiums during the tournament, which begins on Sunday.
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FIFA said in a statement: “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, removing the sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.”
While supporters can purchase alcohol at the official fan zones during the competition, the sale of beer at the matches themselves has been a controversial topic.
It appeared an agreement was originally struck to allow FIFA to permit sponsors Budweiser to sell beer at the stadiums. This was then further clarified in the buildup to the tournament after The New York Times first reported that the beer tents would be less visible at the grounds on request of the hosts.
But it emerged there was late pressure on FIFA to halt sales of alcohol at the stadiums themselves, two days before hosts Qatar kick off the tournament on Sunday against Ecuador.
“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.
“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.”
Well, this is awkward…
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The World Cup was awarded to Qatar back in 2010, but despite the competition starting in two days, the situation around the sale of beer is just one of several last-minute adjustments and teething problems occurring in Qatar.
Building work is ongoing around the various fan parks, transport hubs and stadiums. Meanwhile, some of the temporary fan accommodation has also come in for heavy criticism.
There are more luxurious options available, such as the ships docked in Doha. At the Old Port, there are already two, vast passenger ships waiting for fans to board, with a third expected to arrive on Friday. The port has also undergone reconstruction to provide restaurants and shops to those staying there, but on Thursday there was still last-minute building work being undertaken.
The same goes for the metro hubs and stadiums, where the buildings and grounds are ready to host but the areas around the facilities are still being finished off.