World Cup: FIFA chief feedback on beer ban

Jenna Fryer, Related Press

Printed Saturday, November 19, 2022 6:41AM EST

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA President Gianni Infantino has dismissed a last-minute ban on beer gross sales at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums as nothing greater than a quick inconvenience to spectators.

“If that is the most important downside we’ve, I’ll signal it (the deal),” Infantino mentioned on Saturday, after an about-face by the conservative Muslim emirate to safe the soccer event.

Infantino blamed the “crowd circulation” in Doha for the choice, though it seemed to be a call by Qatar’s autocratic authorities to appease its conservative Wahhabi residents who have been already angered by a number of the occasions surrounding the event, which they see as Western extremism.

Infantino mentioned the beer ban on the stadium was collectively enforced by Qatari authorities and FIFA.

“We tried till the top to see if it was potential,” Infantino mentioned of permitting alcohol gross sales. “If you cannot drink beer for 3 hours a day, you possibly can survive. Perhaps France, Spain, Scotland have a purpose to ban alcohol in stadiums. Perhaps they’re smarter than us, they thought possibly we should always do it. Preserve doing it. “

Spectators can drink alcoholic beer within the night on the “FIFA Fan Competition”, a delegated celebration space that additionally provides stay music and actions. Qatar imposes strict restrictions on the acquisition and consumption of alcohol, though its sale is permitted in lodge bars exterior the world the place the event is being held.

The World Cup kicks off on Sunday with the opening match between host nation Qatar and Ecuador, and as Qatar prepares to host the event, the nation agreed to FIFA necessities to promote alcohol in stadiums. Alcohol plans have been solely launched 11 weeks earlier than kickoff after which modified on Friday.

FIFA says non-alcoholic beer will nonetheless be bought in eight stadiums, whereas champagne, wine, whiskey and different alcohol can be served within the area’s luxurious hospitality areas.

Earlier World Cup hosts have been requested to present concessions. For the 2014 event, Brazil was pressured to alter the regulation to permit alcohol gross sales in stadiums — however the identical cultural points aren’t at play.

AB InBev’s contract with FIFA was renewed in 2011 after Qatar was chosen because the host. Nonetheless, the Belgium-based brewer has confronted uncertainty in latest months over the precise particulars of the place its beer might be served and bought in Qatar.

Infantio denied that the ban on beer gross sales had broken relations with Budweiser, FIFA’s official beer sponsor.

“We have now been companions for many years and we stay up for partnering for the longer term,” he mentioned. “This specific state of affairs has introduced us even nearer.”

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