Qatar bans all alcohol at the World Cup
It's now official.
The Qatari royal family have been pressuring Fifa for an official and complete ban on selling alcohol at all World Cup stadiums and now the decision has been made official. This comes just two days before the already controversial tournament kicks off.
The host nation - where alcohol sales are typically restricted to foreigners drinking in licenced hotels and restaurants, or non-Muslim residents with special permits in their homes - have put significant pressure on Fifa to stop selling beer at the eight World Cup stadiums.
A source briefed on the decision told Sky News: "These have been long-term discussions, and the overall feeling from everyone involved was that the stadiums need to be for everyone.
"This World Cup is different to others in that a larger number of fans are attending from across the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn't play such a large role in the culture. The thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience.
🚨 Beer is out at the World Cup.
After all that (alcoholic) beer will now not be sold inside the perimeter at all eight of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.
Big about-face means FIFA now faces contractual nightmare with Budweiser.
— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) November 18, 2022
"The fan zones will be different in that some are clearly designated as alcohol-serving, while others are alcohol-free. Fans can decide where they want to go without feeling uncomfortable. At stadiums, this was previously not the case."
The U-turn means Budweiser - one of the tournament's largest sponsors - will be unable to sell its beer to fans at games and could put Fifa in breach of a multi-million dollar contract with the company.
Prior to the announcement, The Times reported that discussions about the issue were believed to be ongoing between Budweiser and Fifa.
The publications added that the removal of sales of Budweiser is now 'likely' after the Qatari royals intervened. The New York Times said the intervention was made by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the brother of Qatar's ruler.
World Cup visitors could buy alcohol in hotels and restaurants, in certain fan zones at certain times. Anyone who does get drunk could be taken to a special zone to sober up.