GENEVA (AP) — World Cup organizers in Qatar have finalized a policy to serve beer with alcohol in stadiums and fan zones to soccer fans in the Muslim-majority nation.
FIFA said on Saturday fans would be allowed to buy Budweiser beer with alcohol in eight areas of the stadium – though not in the concussion stands – before and after matches, and only in the evening. During the official “Fan Festival” is held. Doha city center.
Match tickets that promise access to champagne, wine, liquor and beer for hospitality customers at Qatar stadiums have been sold as part of corporate packages offering “premium beverages” since February 2021.
The beer policy, which affects many fans, was announced just 11 weeks before the first game and finally meets an expectation as Qatar campaigned to host the first World Cup in the Middle East 12 years ago.
Budweiser has been the exclusive beer brand of the World Cup since 1986 and parent company AB InBev renewed its deal with FIFA through 2022, signed in 2011, after Qatar was confirmed as the host.
FIFA said on Saturday that Budweiser with alcohol would be sold “in the stadium precincts before kick-off and after the final whistle”.
“Bag ticket holders inside the stadium will have access to non-alcoholic Budweiser Zero,” FIFA said. “At the FIFA Fan Festival, Budweiser will be available for purchase from 6.30pm”
Qatar’s regulatory committee and AB InBev declined to comment on Saturday.
Alcohol is more available in Qatar than in some Middle Eastern countries, although it is only served in hotels and bars that are licensed. It is illegal to spend elsewhere.
However, Qatar has to relax the alcohol rules for the 29-day tournament starting on November 20. It is expected to attract more than 1 million visitors including those from 31 other countries to the tiny emirate.
Qatar has tested an alcohol policy at soccer matches, including the 2019 Club World Cup, which featured then-European champions Liverpool, South American champions Flamengo and Mexican club Monterrey.
Qatar is not the first World Cup host to relax its stance on alcohol. Ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA pressure was led by local lawmakers to pass a special law exempting the tournament from the ban on selling alcohol in stadiums.
Qatar beat four rival bids, including the United States, to win the World Cup host race where contenders were expected to honor FIFA deals with trading partners.
At the time of FIFA’s hosting vote in 2010, those World Cup deals included the sale of MATCH Hospitality’s corporate stakes and AB InBev. Both companies joined FIFA a year later.
“It’s important to remember,” Jim Byrom, CEO of Match Hospitality, told The Associated Press in a recent interview, “that the entire FIFA World Cup bidding process is designed to deliver a World Cup experience that is accessible to all around. To the fans. The world has reason to hope and expect.”