There will be no alcoholic products sold around the stadiums of FIFA World Cup 2022. Qatari officials have decided only non-alcoholic products will be sold near stadiums. FIFA and beer giant AB-InBev have no choice but to follow.
AB-InBev’s beer brand Budweiser is a sponsor of FIFA and pumps in about $75 million every four years for the deal. In return, the beer giant gets access to the massive fanbase of FIFA.

Qatari officials have decided that exclusively non-alcoholic beverages will be sold near the stadiums during the FIFA World Cup 2022. The announcement comes just two days before the games are set to start on November 20, 2022.

Last week, the highest levels of the Qatari state ordered to move away the Budweiser-branded beer tents from near the stadiums.

Now, a decision was made that no alcoholic beverages are allowed to be sold near the eight World Cup stadiums. The Budweiser branded beer tents would possibly be replaced with un-branded tents. Only Budweiser’s non-alcoholic brand “Budweiser Zero” will be sold at these tents near the stadiums. This is still an opportunity for the beer giant to use alibi-marketing and expose millions of football fans, including children, to alcohol marketing.

The decision to not allow any alcohol to be sold near the stadiums has been confirmed by a statement by FIFA.

Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues,” FIFA announced, as per The New York Times.

The statement said, it would mean “removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.”

Back in 2014 concerning the Brazil World Cup, FIFA did the dirty work for Big Alcohol and pushed the government to change national alcohol laws to allow alcohol in World Cup stadiums. At the time, then-FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke became infamous with his blatant statement in favor of Budweiser:

Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate. The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.”

Jerome Valcke, former General Secretary, FIFA

This time around FIFA and AB InBev have to respect the host country’s local customs and laws – to a certain degree.

However, the decision does not mean there would be no alcohol sales at the World Cup. FIFA has already done the dirty work for Big Alcohol and exempted the World Cup from Qatar’s alcohol laws. Therefore alcohol products will be sold at,

  • the Fan Festival, and
  • at stadium luxury suites reserved for FIFA officials and other wealthy guests.
  • Alcohol products will be sold for 17 hours every day at the Qatar 2022 Arcadia Spectacular.

As per Qatari laws, public alcohol use is not allowed. This is in line with local customs where most people live alcohol-free in the Muslim-majority country. However, alcohol products are available at designated hotel bars, mostly for foreigners.

As reported earlier, FIFA lobbied Qatar to exempt the World Cup from its alcohol laws, and ignores Qatar’s local customs where alcohol use is not the norm, so that Big Alcohol can maximize profits.

Unholy alliance: AB InBev and FIFA

AB InBev’s brand Budweiser is a FIFA World Cup sponsor and has been for over 35 years. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the tenth event sponsored by Budweiser. The sponsorship gives the beer brand certain benefits. This includes exclusive rights to sell beer at the event and marketing rights. 

According to reports from 2010, Budweiser pumps between $10 million and $25 million every year into FIFA for sponsorship rights. The New York Times reports, Budweiser pays roughly $75 million every four years for the sponsorship deal.

FIFA has even gone so far as to disregard its partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) signed in 2019 to do Big Alcohol’s bidding. The partnership titled “Healthy FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health” aimed to make the World Cup healthier and safer and to promote a healthy lifestyle through various joint activities with the WHO.

Source Website: The New York Times