The Qatari royal family has made a direct request to FIFA to Budweiser to move its beer tents away from stadiums just days before the Qatar vs Ecuador curtain-raiser on Monday.
The brewer was told on Saturday to make late changes to its beer stalls, which had previously been allowed outside stadiums, for fear that it might offed Qatari locals.
Alcohol is legal within the Muslim monarchy but is only allowed to be sold in hotel bars and restaurants away from street view. However, it had been required to relax its restrictions to allow Budweiser to sell its products at matches.
Budweiser reportedly pays AU$112 million every four years to be the official alcohol sponsor of the World Cup.
Prior to the edict from the Qatari royal family, beer was only allowed to be sold outside stadiums but within the perimeter for ticket holders before kick-off or post-match. It is normally illegal to drink or be drunk in public in Qatar, with a potential six month prison sentence and fine of around $1,200 on the cards.
Budweiser owner AB InBev told Sky News: “AB InBev was informed on November 12 and are working with FIFA to relocate the concession outlets to locations as directed. We are working with FIFA to bring the best possible experience to the fans.
“Our focus is on delivering the best possible consumer experience under the new circumstances.”
The New York Times posted a video of red Budweiser tents being moved on wheels in recent days.
Qatar World Cup organisers said “operational plans are being finalised” when asked about the change to the location of beer stations.
The World Cup Supreme Committee told Sky News that “These plans include venue management teams enhancing overlay requirements for all competition venues. This has a direct impact on the location of certain fan areas.
“Pouring times and number of pouring destinations remains the same across all eight World Cup stadiums.”
There are also places for overly inebriated fans to sober up.
The whole World Cup has become embroiled in controversy, with the US men’s team making a statement on gay rights and our own Socceroos releasing a video supporting migrant workers and minorities in the country.
Even Sportsbet has become involved, unveiling a new campaign labelling the event a bit “yeah, nah.”
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