Alcohol will not be sold to supporters inside stadiums at this year’s World Cup in Qatar after a last-minute U-turn by football’s governing body Fifa.
Alcoholic drinks were due to be served in the eight stadiums being used to host this year’s flagship tournament, but Fifa explained that after talks with officials in the strictly Muslim country, plans had been changed at the last minute.
“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 sales points of beer from Qatar’s Fifa World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” said a statement from world football’s governing body.
“There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.
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“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 organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.”
It is understood that alcoholic beverages will still be available to those sitting in corporate areas at the stadiums.
A tweet from Budweiser, one of the official sponsors of the tournament, read: “Well, this is awkward…” before it was deleted.
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) in Britain expressed concern that if World Cup officials could change their mind on the consumption of alcohol in stadiums at the last minute, they could row back on other pledges.
“Supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues,” a statement from the FSA read.
The World Cup begins with Qatar facing Ecuador at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Sunday.