Possession of and sales of beer has been banned from all eight Qatar World Cup stadiums in a U-turn just days before the football tournament opens on Sunday (November 20).
FIFA has confirmed to The Times that a ban on beer sales inside the stadium perimeters will be imposed, after Qatar’s rulers including the Gulf state’s Emir put pressure on the World Cup hosts.
The previous policy allowed Budweiser, which has a multi-million dollar sponsorship contract with FIFA via the beer’s brewer, AB In-Bev, to sell beer to fans inside the stadium perimeters.
Now, the only people who will be able to drink alcohol inside the stadiums are those inside hospitality boxes where prices start at £19,000 for a suite.
Match Hospitality, which previously promised “champagne, beer and premium spirits” in the hospitality boxes, told The Times: “We can confirm that our hospitality products are not impacted by the policy change.”
— England (@England) November 18, 2022
Budweiser will still be sold during limited hours in the area immediately outside match venues and fan zones as well as within hotels. Qatar is a dry nation with alcohol normally available only in certain hotels in the capital, Doha.
A FIFA spokesman said: “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 the sale points of beer from Qatar’s Fifa World Cup stadium perimeters.
“There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero, which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums. Host country authorities and Fifa will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.
“The tournament organisers appreciate AB In-Bev’s understanding and continuous support for our joint commitment to cater for everyone at the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Budweiser has a $75million (approximately £63 million) sponsorship deal with FIFA covering the four-year World Cup cycle.
Meanwhile, earlier this month Dua Lipa denied any involvement with the Qatar World Cup, citing the host nation’s poor human rights record.
It had been rumoured that the pop star was set to perform during the opening ceremony but according to singer it was never going to happen.
In a statement posted on her Instagram, Lipa said: “There is currently a lot of speculation that I will be performing at the opening ceremony of the world cup in Qatar. I will not be performing and nor have I ever been involved in any negotiations to perform. I will be cheering England on from afar.
“I look forward to visiting Qatar when it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the World Cup.”
The 2022 World Cup runs from November 20–December 18 in and around Doha, and is being held amid ongoing criticism regarding the death of migrant workers in the creation of stadiums and the country’s views on homosexuality, which is illegal in Qatar.
In a message posted to his social media accounts and on new website benderslikebeckham.com, Lycett criticised Beckham for his reported £10million sponsorship deal with Qatar around the tournament, and offered to donate £10,000 of his own money to queer charities if Beckham ended the sponsorship before the tournament started.
If not, it would be shredded on the opening day of the tournament.