Qatar bans alcohol at World Cup stadiums

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Two days before Sunday’s kick-off of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has banned sale of alcohol at stadiums.

World soccer governing body FIFA has announced the last-minute change today.

“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,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement.

Reuters reported that Qatar’s tournament organisers have for years said that alcohol would be widely accessible to fans at the tournament.

The decision to ban alcohol has been questioned by football supporters. England’s Football Supporters’ Association said the decision raises concerns about Qatar’s ability to fulfil its promises to visiting fans on “accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”

“Some fans like a beer at the match, 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,” the association said in a statement on Twitter.

Qatar which was awarded World Cup hosting rights in 2010 has a population of 3 million people and is expecting the arrival of 1.2 million fans for the World Cup.

Sale of alcohol in the country is strictly controlled with alcoholic beverages only sold in upscale hotel bars and at unusually high prices, according to the New York Times. During the World Cup, alcohol will be sold in some fan zones while other fan zones alcohol-free

Budweiser, a World Cup sponsor since 1985, owned by beer maker AB InBev, was to exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game, Reuters reported.

The company has already started a campaign targeting 1.2 million selling points in 70 markets as it looks to profit from World Cup which usually boosts beer consumption.

Following the ban the company said: “Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control.”

However, a tweet on Budweiser’s official Twitter account appeared to show surprise over the decision to ban alcohol sales.

“Well, this is awkward…” read the twee which was later deleted.

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