FIFA chief says fans will survive World Cup without beer

FIFA chief says fans will survive World Cup without beer

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA President Gianni Infantino dismissed Qatar’s last-minute ban on beer sales at World Cup stadiums as nothing more than a brief inconvenience for spectators.

“If this is our biggest problem, I will sign it (the deal),” Infantino said on Saturday, a day after the conservative Islamic emirate held face-to-face talks on a deal to secure the soccer tournament. do it

Infantino blamed the “crowd flow” in Doha for the decision, although it was an order by Qatar’s authoritarian government to appease its conservative Wahhabi citizens, who had already been involved in some of the events surrounding the tournament. They are outraged by what they see as Western aggression.

Infantino said the beer ban at the stadium was a joint effort by Qatari officials and FIFA.

“We tried until the end to see if it was possible,” Infantino said of allowing alcohol sales. “If you don’t drink beer for 3 hours a day, you won’t survive. Maybe that’s why alcohol is banned in stadiums in France, Spain and Scotland. Maybe they’re smarter than us, he thought. We had to do this.”

Visitors can drink alcoholic beer in the evening at the “FIFA Fan Festival”, a designated party area that also features live music and activities. Qatar imposes strict restrictions on the purchase and consumption of alcohol, although its sale is permitted in hotel bars outside tournament-promoting areas.

The World Cup begins on Sunday with the opening match between host nation Qatar and Ecuador, and when Qatar bid to host the tournament, the country agreed to FIFA’s requirements to sell alcohol in stadiums. The alcohol plans were only published 11 weeks before the start and then changed on Friday.

FIFA says non-alcoholic beer will still be sold in eight stadiums, while champagne, wine, whiskey and other alcohol will be served in the luxury hospitality areas of the Arena.

Previous World Cup hosts were asked to give concessions. For the 2014 tournament, Brazil was forced to change the law to allow the sale of alcohol in the stadium – but the same cultural issues were not at play.

AB InBev’s contract with FIFA was renewed in 2011 after Qatar was chosen as the host. However, the Belgium-based brewer has faced uncertainty in recent months over the exact details of where it can serve and sell beer in Qatar.

Infantino has denied that the ban on beer sales has damaged FIFA’s relationship with its official beer sponsor, Budweiser.

“We have been friends for decades, and we look forward to a partnership for the future,” he said. “This special situation has brought us closer together.”

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