Qatar Added A Last-Minute Beer Ban At World Cup Stadiums & Budweiser Is Feeling 'Awkward'

Fans can still buy a Bud Zero!

Budweiser beer. Right: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official countdown clock in Qatar.
Associate Editor

Budweiser beer. Right: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official countdown clock in Qatar.

Qatar banned beer sales at World Cup stadiums on Friday in a last-minute change-up, just two days before one of the world's biggest sporting events was set to begin.

In a statement, FIFA said the decision was made after discussions between the soccer governing body and the host country.

"A decision has been made to focus on the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar's FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters," FIFA said.

The FIFA spokesperson stated the decision would not affect the sale of the non-alcoholic beer Bud Zero at the stadiums.

Champagne, wine and whiskey will continue to be served in the luxury hospitality sections of the arenas, however, most fans will not have access to those areas, the Associated Press reports.

Qatar is a conservative Muslim country where the sale of alcohol is strictly controlled.

The middle-eastern nation won a bid to host the tournament in 2010 and initially agreed to allow beer sales during the World Cup.

NPR reports Qatar and FIFA had previously agreed to permit beer sales inside the stadiums, but not at concession stands.

Last week, that was toned down and alcohol was only to be sold in less visible spots on the stadiums' perimeters, which meant that fans would have to walk away from the game to buy and drink a beer.

Budweiser, which is owned by beer maker AB InBev and has been a World Cup sponsor since 1985, was set to exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter around each of the eight stadiums, as reported by Reuters.

The Associated Press says the company "pays tens of millions of dollars at each World Cup for exclusive rights to sell beer" and it had already shipped most of its planned stock for the event from Britain to Qatar. Budweiser's FIFA sponsorship deal is worth $75 million, the New York Times reports.

Budweiser reacted to the news in a tweet calling it "awkward" before deleting it.

This will likely upset a great lot of fans who spent a pretty penny to attend the event, with tickets reportedly going for as much as US$1,600 (roughly CA$2,000).

During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it's estimated fans drank 3.2 million beers and only 2% of those were non-alcoholic, as reported by Sportico.

Many people have been reacting to the news online, with some pointing out that it's unreasonable to make a change so last minute.

One person tweeted that fans will now have to resort to drinking heavily before attending the games.

While the tweet may be entertaining, foreign visitors should brush up on their Qatari laws and customs before making g decision, in order to avoid accidentally causing issues with the local authorities. Indeed, drinking alcoholic beverages outside of strictly regulated and licensed sites — including unlicensed homes — is a criminal offence in Qatar, AP News reported.

Another person tweeted that the news isn't all that surprising.

The World Cup tournament kicks off on November 20 and runs to December 18.

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Asymina Kantorowicz
Associate Editor
Asymina Kantorowicz is an Associate Lifestyle Editor for Narcity Media focused on health and entertainment news and is based in Victoria, British Columbia.