Fifa has banned the sale of alcohol at World Cup stadiums in Qatar just 48 hours before the tournament starts.
The World Cup starts on Sunday when Qatar play Ecuador.
Budweiser, a major sponsor of Fifa, is owned by beer maker AB InBev and had exclusive rights to sell beer at the World Cup. Budweiser is thought to have a sponsorship deal worth $75million with FIFA.
Budweiser tweeted “well, this is awkward…”moments before FIFA confirmed that alcohol sales will be confined to special ‘fan zones.’ The post has been deleted. Alcohol will be available as normal in licenced hotels and restaurants.
“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.
“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.”
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) criticised the timing of the decision to ban the sale of beer for most fans.
“Some fans like a beer at a game and some don’t, but the real issue is the last minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem – the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters,” said an FSA spokesperson.
“If they can change their minds on this at a moment’s notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”
In August, Fifa changed the start date of the World Cup so that the first game of the competition would be Qatar facing Ecuador.
The game was scheduled to be played on 21 November as the third game, with Senegal against the Netherlands set to be the opening match earlier that day.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.