Qatar did an about-face this Friday, November 18, 48 hours before the kick-off of the Football World Cup, by banning the sale of alcohol near the eight stadiums, arousing the incomprehension of groups of supporters, report the “New York Times”.
“Following discussions between the authorities of the host country and Fifa, it has been decided to concentrate the sale of alcoholic beverages on the Fifa Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues”, announces Fifa. According to the “New York Times”, the ban on the sale of alcohol only applies to fans in the stands. Wine, beer and champagne will be offered in the luxury boxes reserved for FIFA officials and wealthy supporters.
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In the conservative country, the sale of alcohol is strictly prohibited. Alcohol is available in Qatar but, even before the competition, visitors were only allowed to buy from high-end hotels at high prices.
The subject had been the subject of negotiations between the organizing country and Fifa. The conservative emirate had however promised to ease the application of its legislation during this planetary event which should welcome more than a million supporters from all over the world.
The leading beer brand on the sidelines
It was confirmed in early September that beer stalls would open around stadiums from three hours and up to 30 minutes before matches start. They were then to reopen for an hour after the final whistle. Only non-alcoholic beers were to be available in stadiums.
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This drastic change of heart led to the misunderstanding of the main beer brand sponsor, Budweiser. The group took note of the decision by acknowledging that certain operations that it had carried out around the stadiums on the occasion of the event could not “not go ahead for circumstances beyond (one’s) control”said a spokeswoman for the AB InBev group, of which Budweiser is a part, in a message to AFP.
“As a partner of Fifa for over three decades, we look forward to launching our (World Cup 2022) campaigns around the world to celebrate football with our customers”pointed out the representative of Budweiser.