Qatar Changes its Mind Just Before the World Cup and Puts FIFA in a Difficult Position

Qatar Changes its Mind Just Before the World Cup and Puts FIFA in a Difficult Position

Just before the start of the World Cup, the Qatari government decided that alcohol may not be consumed in and around the stadiums. Unfortunately, she puts the World Football Association FIFA in a challenging position because the million-dollar contract with sponsor Budweiser states that beer is served.

On Sunday, the national team of Qatar kicks off the World Cup in their own country against Ecuador. Over the next few days and weeks, fans worldwide will be attending matches in the country’s eight specially built stadiums for the World Cup. A difference from previous tournaments is that they will not be able to drink beer in the stadium during the match. Only non-alcoholic beer and other non-alcoholic drinks will be sold.

Initially, it was intended that fans who wanted to drink Budweiser – a loyal sponsor of FIFA – with alcohol could do so in a particular perimeter outside the stadiums. For example, Qatar had agreed with the World Football Association. But that decision will be reversed two days before the start of the World Cup, according to an official source. Even outside the stadium, only non-alcoholic beer will be served.

According to the Qatari government, beer has no place within the walls of the stadiums or even just outside them. Advertising is also becoming more sensitive by the day. In recent days, images have emerged of drink stands being moved to places where the general public would certainly not be able to see them.

Drinking alcohol will only be possible in Qatari catering establishments, where the cameras go less. Alcohol may also be served in the more expensive boxes in the stadiums, where the VIPs are seated. However, it is not yet entirely clear whether the Qatari government also wants to change that.

Qatar puts the World Football Association, which organizes the football party, in a challenging position. After all, Budweiser has been one of the most prominent sponsors of FIFA for many years and, therefore, of the tournaments it organizes. That the beer is allowed to sell and has a strong visual presence during those events has therefore been laid down in a million-dollar contract. Every 4 years, it pays around 75 million dollars for this.

The relationship between AB Inbev, Budweiser’s parent company, and FIFA has been tested several times in the run-up to the World Cup. For example, frequent meetings and negotiations had to take place about how present the beer brand should be in Qatar and how all the drinks would get there. In the end, all parties found an agreement, but the fact that Qatar is now again difficult makes the situation difficult. In response, AB Inbev says it is doing everything possible to find “the best possible solution” “in consultation with FIFA”.

The serving of alcohol is a susceptible subject in the conservative Muslim country of Qatar. In public, it is not possible in everyday life anyway. Only hotels, restaurants and cafes are a blind eye turned. Drunkenness is a crime in the country. If you stray on the street under the influence, you will be arrested by the police.

The fact that there would suddenly be drinking in stadiums at the World Cup before the eyes of the whole world instils too much fear in the Qatari government. She fears that the Qataris will become angry and turn against her. The announcement that the World Cup was coming to Qatar – it will be the first World Cup in an Arab country – has already provoked much criticism in their own country.

Therefore, the Qatari government will do everything it can to keep control. This raises international questions about the power that FIFA still has over its own events. Because in the guide the fans receive, it is stated that they will indeed be able to drink Budweiser in the stadiums. In any case, a solid evaluation will follow after the World Cup, it already seems.

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