Qatar Reverses Course, Bans Alcohol Sales From Stadiums 2 Days Before World Cup Begins

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Andrew Powell Contributor
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Two days before the start of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has banned alcohol from being sold in and around stadiums, according to a Nov. 18 announcement from organizers of the event.

With the ruling, it appears authorities in Qatar have overridden FIFA — the global governing body in the world of soccer — as well as Budweiser, a longtime sponsor for FIFA.

Qatar previously had a deal with both FIFA and Budweiser where beer could be sold within stadium compounds, as well as around the perimeter of arenas, but not in actual concourses. FIFA has allowed the sale of alcohol at its World Cups since the 1980s. For Islam nation Qatar, “Alcohol is not part of local culture, but hospitality is,” according to the country’s World Cup cultural awareness guide.

The push-back from Qatari government officials began earlier in November, when they originally declared outdoor beer tents had to be moved to locations that aren’t as conspicuous, The New York Times (NYT) reported. FIFA complied with the demands, which reportedly came from Qatar’s royal family before being carried out by the government-adjoining organizing committee. (RELATED: Qatar Is Booking World Cup Fans In Shipping Containers For Over $200 Per Night)

Qatar then made another move two days before the start of the World Cup, banning alcohol sales altogether from “stadium perimeters.” In its statement, FIFA wrote the choice to “remov[e] sales points of beer from … stadium perimeters” was made “following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA.”

FIFA has now found itself in a position post-ban where they might have to re-work their contract with Budweiser, the NYT continued. FIFA wrote in its statement the company is thankful for the “understanding and continuous support” from AB InBev, which is the parent company of Budweiser.

In a since-deleted tweet Nov. 18, Budweiser reportedly wrote, “Well, this is awkward…” The company would then go on to say in a statement that “Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control,” according to WION.

Fans will still be able to drink alcohol at the event, though it will only be available at FIFA’s official fan festival, according to Qatar’s cultural awareness guide. Only non-alcoholic beer will be sold by Budweiser inside the stadiums, according to Reuters.

In Qatar, both public consumption of alcohol and public intoxication are illegal, according to TIME. Restaurants, bars and hotels with licenses are permitted to serve alcohol to those of drinking age.