FIFA 2022: Budweiser responds to Qatar’s beer ban, says ‘beyond our control’


Disheartening a huge number of football fans, on Friday, just 2 days before the commencement of the Football World cup, the host nation Qatar banned the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums. It has come as a significant blow to World Cup beer sponsor Budweiser and raised questions about how much control FIFA retains over its tournament.

Following FIFA and the host nation’s announcement that sales at stadiums would not go forward, the owner of American beer juggernaut Budweiser claimed on Friday that restrictions at World Cup matches were “beyond our control.”

In the ticketed area surrounding each of the eight stadiums, Budweiser, the World Cup sponsor owned by the brewer AB InBev, was to be the only vendor of alcoholic beverages three hours before and one hour after each game.

AB InBev acknowledged the action taken merely days before the first match kickoff on Sunday, saying “some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

“Tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.

Imposing restrictions on the sale of bear is a sudden U-turn on part of Qatar with respect to the deal it made to secure the soccer tournament. The action is the most recent indication of the tension surrounding hosting the event in the conservative Muslim emirate, where the sale of alcohol is severely restricted.

The event is not only a sports competition, but also a month-long party. England’s Football Supporters’ Association said the decision raises concerns about Qatar’s ability to fulfil its promises to visiting fans on “accommodation, transport or cultural issues.”

For years, Qatar’s tournament organisers have said that alcohol would be widely accessible to fans at the tournament.

“Some fans like a beer at the match, and some don’t, but the real issue is the last-minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem — the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters,” the association said in a statement on Twitter.

Since 1985, the year the World Cup was held in Mexico, Budweiser has been a World Cup sponsor. With activities for Budweiser and other brands in more than 70 markets and at 1.2 million bars, restaurants, and retail locations, it has launched its largest-ever campaign for 2022.

Beer consumption typically increases during the World Cup, and the Belgian company that produces Stella Artois and Corona clearly wants to make money off the millions of dollars it spends to be a sponsor.

However, it has stated that those profits will come more from spectators watching on television than from consumption at the venue of the event.

Budweiser will still sell its non-alcoholic beer throughout the stadium precincts for $8.25 per half-litre, will aldo sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha where it is offered for about $14 per half-litre, according to a source from Reuters.

(With inputs from agencies)

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