The nation of Qatar suddenly changed its rules to ban any beer sales at its World Cup stadiums. It's a surprising and frustrating reversal for many fans who expected to at least be able to buy beer at select kiosks. The decision was made all the more controversial by the fact that it happened only two days before the World Cup's opening game.
What Will Budweiser Do With All The Beer It Can't Sell At The World Cup?
It Isn't Great News For Budweiser, Either
Setting up the World Cup has been endlessly chaotic this year, so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that it's produced yet another controversy. However, this decision by Qatar is a mighty blow to Budweiser, the beer sponsor of the World Cup. It's also making people question whether the government of Qatar, and not FIFA, is now in charge of the event. Qatar is a country in which alcohol sales are restricted, but had originally agreed to FIFA's request to allow beer sales in stadiums.
There Will Be Non-Alcoholic Beer, Instead
In conjunction with the decision, FIFA announced that non-alcoholic beer will still be sold at World Cup stadiums, whereas champagne, whiskey, wine, and other types of alcohol will be sold in luxury hospitality areas.
Of course, the majority of ticket holders -- who no doubt bought tickets thinking they would be able to purchase beer at the World Cup -- don't have access to "luxury hospitality areas." Instead, they'll have to settle for organized "FIFA Fan Festival" events after the day's events end.
Fans Were Divided Over The News
One might imagine that all World Cup fans would be up in arms now, but the reality is that fans are divided over this latest headline.
“We’re not here to drink beer,” said Adel Abou Hana, an American soccer fan. “We’re here to watch the world-class soccer.”
However, Federico Ferraz, a Portuguese fan, was upset that the decision had arrived on short notice. “I think it’s a bit bad because for me, beer and football go hand in hand,” he said.
Ronan Evain, who serves as executive director of Football Supporters Europe, a soccer fan group, decried the decision as “extremely worrying.”
“For many fans, whether they don’t drink alcohol or are used to dry stadium policies at home, this is a detail. It won’t change their tournament,” Evain said on Twitter. “But with 48 (hours) to go, we’ve clearly entered a dangerous territory — where ‘assurances’ don’t matter anymore.”
Wondering where all the beer will do now? Here's what Budweiser had to say: