Budweiser World Cup campaign curbed, not crashed, by Qatar beer ban.
Qatar Bans Beer
World Cup organisers have banned the sale of alcohol around stadiums in Qatar after last-minute showdown talks, FIFA announced on Friday.
First reported by British newspaper The Times, FIFA and Qatari organisers were engaged in late negotiations over whether beer would be sold at the stadiums during the tournament, which begins on Sunday.
World Cup 2022: Qatar bans alcoholic beer in and around World Cup stadiums
DOHA, Qatar — Alcoholic beer will not be sold in and around World Cup stadiums after all, according to a Friday announcement from organizers that represents a stunning reversal two days before the tournament.
Qatari authorities appear to have overruled FIFA, soccer’s global governing body and owner of the World Cup; and Budweiser, a longtime FIFA sponsor.
For months, FIFA, Budweiser and Qatar, the 2022 World Cup’s controversial host nation, seemed to have found a middle-ground agreement that alcoholic beer would be sold within stadium compounds, around the perimeter of the arenas, but not in concourses. The agreement mollified FIFA, which has allowed beer at World Cups for decades; and Qatar, a majority-Muslim country where, as Qatari World Cup organizing committee CEO Nasser Al Khater has said, “alcohol is not part of our culture.”
A last-minute decision to ban the sale of alcohol at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums will seriously limit Budweiser sales in the Gulf state, but will not derail its owner’s global campaign during the tournament, industry analysts said.
Soccer world governing body FIFA’s announcement of the ban on Friday, just two days before the event kicks off, leaves the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) with at least a headache.
Budweiser, the major World Cup sponsor it owns, had been set to exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game during the four-week event.
Now beer will not merely be hidden out of view: It will not be available to fans at all.
The ban is the latest and most dramatic point of contention yet between FIFA and Qatar, which had sought and won the right to host the World Cup as part of an ambitious effort to announce itself on the global stage. In recent weeks, Qatari government leaders, including the emir, have mounted an increasingly strident defense of their nation.
But their latest U-turn will infuriate fans; leave organizers scrambling to adjust; and complicate FIFA’s $75 million sponsorship agreement with Budweiser.
Budweiser is an American-style pale lager, part of AB InBev. Introduced in 1876 by Carl Conrad & Co. of St. Louis, Missouri, Budweiser has become a large selling beer company in the United States.
The beer brand, which is one of FIFA’s partners, tweeted, “Well, this is awkward,” though the social media post was quickly deleted.
Budweiser is owned by the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev.
“The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” continued the FIFA statement.