Just two days before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, the world football association FIFA confirmed that no alcohol will be sold in the eight stadiums in which the 64 games of the tournament will be played.
“Following discussions between the authorities of the host country and FIFA, it was decided to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages to the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues and the outlets for beer from around the stadium of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar to be removed.” the FIFA statement said.
The Muslim country is considered very conservative and strictly regulates the sale and consumption of alcohol.
In September, Qatar said it would allow ticketed fans to buy alcoholic beer at World Cup soccer matches starting three hours before kick-off and one hour after the final whistle, but not during the match.
“There is no impact on the sale of Bud Zero, which will continue to be available in all World Cup stadiums in Qatar,” the FIFA statement added.
“The host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide a comfortable, respectful and enjoyable experience for all fans.”
Budweiser would sell beer before and after each game within the ticketed perimeter around each of the eight stadiums.
The beer brand, which is one of FIFA’s partners, tweeted: “Well that’s awkward,” though the social media post was quickly deleted.
Budweiser is owned by the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev.
“The tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continued support for our shared commitment to care for all guests during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the FIFA statement continued.
Budweiser is paying around $75 million for its sponsorship deal with FIFA, according to the New York Times.
“As a partner of FIFA for over three decades, we look forward to our activation of FIFA World Cup™ campaigns around the world to celebrate football with our consumers,” said a spokesman for AB InBev.
“Some of the planned stadium activations cannot go ahead due to circumstances beyond our control.”
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), the national body representing football supporters in England and Wales, has condemned the decision to sell beer.
In a statement released on Friday, the FSA said: “Some fans like a beer at the game, some don’t, but the real problem is the last-minute about-face, which speaks to a bigger problem – the total lack of communication and clarity towards the organizing committee the fans.
“If they can change their minds at short notice and without explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about fulfilling other promises related to housing, transportation or cultural issues.”
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place from November 20th to December 18th.
CNN is still awaiting an official statement from Qatar’s Supreme Committee.