Less than a week ago, World Cup organizers had to tell major FIFA sponsor Budweiser that their alcohol tents needed to be moved to less visible areas. On Thursday, just three days before the games begin in Qatar, The Times reported that beer will “likely” be banned from all eight stadiums at the request of the Qatari royal family.
Just a day later on Friday morning, FIFA released a statement confirming the Times report.
“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 sales points of beer from Qatar's FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” FIFA's statement read. “There is no impact on the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all of Qatar's World Cup stadiums.”
This is quite a late decision to make before action kicks off in Qatar on Nov. 20. Notably, before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA demanded that the country change their laws to allow the sale of beer in stadiums. Then-president Dilma Rousseff signed a bill to allow that sale, along with other new rules for the World Cup.
Prior to that, the sale of beer at soccer matches in Brazil was illegal since 2003 to prevent violence at matches.
Alcohol is not technically banned in Qatar, but it is very tightly regulated. If Budweiser can't have any visibility during games, FIFA could be breaching their multimillion dollar contract with Budweiser — a company that has had a relationship with FIFA since 1985.
Originally published on CBS.com