Budweiser has been one of FIFA's largest sponsors for many years.  That the beer is allowed to sell and has a strong visual presence has therefore been laid down in a million-dollar contract.

On Sunday, the national team of Qatar kicks off the World Cup in their own country against Ecuador. Over the next few days and weeks, fans from all over the world will be attending matches in the country’s eight specially built stadiums for the World Cup. A difference with previous tournaments is that they will not be able to drink beer in the stadium during the match. Only non-alcoholic beer and other non-alcoholic drinks will be sold.

Initially, it was intended that fans who wanted to drink Budweiser – loyal sponsor of FIFA – with alcohol, could do so in a special perimeter outside the stadiums. For example, Qatar had agreed with the World Football Association. But that decision will be reversed two days before the start of the World Cup, according to an official source. Even outside the stadium, only non-alcoholic beer will be served.

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According to the Qatari government, beer has no place within the walls of the stadiums or even just outside them. Advertising is also becoming more sensitive by the day. In recent days, images have emerged of drink stands being moved to places where the general public would certainly not be able to see them.

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Drinking alcohol will only be possible in the Qatari fan villages and the catering establishments. Read: places where the cameras go less or not at all. Alcohol may also be served in the more expensive boxes in the stadiums, where the VIPs are seated. Although it is not yet entirely clear whether the Qatari government also wants to change that.

Difficult parquet

Qatar puts the World Football Association, which organizes the football party, in a very difficult position. After all, Budweiser has been one of the largest sponsors of FIFA for many years and therefore also of the tournaments it organizes. That the beer is allowed to sell and has a strong visual presence during those events has therefore been laid down in a million-dollar contract. Every 4 years it pays around 75 million dollars for this.

The relationship between AB Inbev, Budweiser’s parent company, and FIFA has been tested several times in the run-up to the World Cup. For example, frequent meetings and negotiations had to take place about how present the beer brand should be in Qatar and how all the drinks would get there. In the end, all parties found an agreement, but the fact that Qatar is now again difficult makes the situation difficult. In a response, AB Inbev says that it is doing everything it can to find “the best possible solution” “in consultation with FIFA”.

Budweiser has been one of FIFA’s largest sponsors for many years. That the beer is allowed to sell and has a strong visual presence has therefore been laid down in a million-dollar contract. ©Getty Images

Alcohol

The serving of alcohol is a particularly sensitive subject in Qatar. In public, it is not possible in everyday life anyway. Only in hotels, restaurants and cafes is a blind eye turned. Drunkenness is a crime in the country. If you stray on the street under the influence, you will be arrested by the police.

The fact that there would suddenly be drinking in stadiums at the World Cup, before the eyes of the whole world, instills too much fear in the Qatari government. She fears that the Qataris will become angry and turn against her. The announcement that the World Cup was coming to Qatar – it will be the first World Cup in an Arab country – has already provoked a lot of criticism in their own country.

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