Just a few days back it seemed like FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar, which has strict controls on alcohol, would relax their laws for the football extravaganza as consuming alcohol in public places is illegal in the Gulf country.
It was reported by Reuters that major World Cup sponsor Budweiser has exclusive rights to sell beer at the finals and will serve its products at the 40,000 capacity FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha’s Al Bidda Park.
The beer maker would also serve beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each stadium.
But it is now being reported that Qatar are now seeking a complete ban of beer from the stadiums. This comes two days before the kickoff of the Qatar World Cup, the first to be hosted in a Middle Eastern nation.
According to reports, Qatar will only sell non-alcoholic beverages at the World Cup and that in turn creates a massive problem for FIFA.
FIFA will now have some answering to do to World Cup sponsor Budweiser with whom commercial agreements have been signed.
Budweiser’s parent company, AB InBev, pays tens of millions of dollars at each World Cup for exclusive rights to sell beer. The company’s partnership with FIFA started at the 1986 tournament.
When Qatar launched its bid to host the World Cup, the country agreed to respect FIFA’s commercial partners, and again when signing contracts after winning the vote in 2010. AB InBev’s deal with FIFA was renewed in 2011 — after Qatar was picked as host — in a two-tournament package through 2022.
FIFA will be left red-faced if this latest development goes through as this is not the first time that Qatar has made the football world governing body to cow down to it.
Qatar had also asked FIFA to change the dates of the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony was originally to be held before Qatar’s match on November 21 against Ecuador but the hosts will now make their World Cup debut against Ecuador on November 20 at 1900 local time after an opening ceremony at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium.
This means, the Group A match between Senegal and Netherlands, originally scheduled to be the tournament opener, has been pushed back by six hours from 1300 local time on November 21 to the 1900 slot vacated by Qatar vs Ecuador. England’s Group B match with Iran and the USA’s opener against Wales, which are also scheduled for November 21, remain unaffected by the change.
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