Qatar has banned beer at World Cup football stadiums, just two days before the opening match, the New York Times reported Friday.
The decision comes after several changes to the rules on the consumption of alcohol caused tensions between FIFA, world football’s governing body, and the Muslim host country, where drinking in public is prohibited.
However, beer will still be available in luxury suites reserved for FIFA officials and other wealthy guests, the New York Times reported citing an official who asked not to be named.
Qatari officials has changed their minds on the subject of alcohol, forcing Budweiser — which has the exclusivity to sell beer at World Cup matches — to relocate stalls selling beer outside the stadiums because the Qatari rulers wanted alcohol to be less prominent. Now it has been banned altogether. FIFA said in a statement.
That’s a problem because FIFA has a €72 million contract with Budweiser. The brewing giant tweeted “Well, this is awkward…” after the news broke.
The move is also likely to further damage this World Cup’s — and FIFA’s — already battered reputation, with concerns over what other last-minute changes the Qatari government will make.
Qatar has faced criticism ever since it was awarded the tournament in 2010 for its treatment of migrant workers, as well as its stance on the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights.
FIFA’s decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup in 2010 has been highly controversial since day one as bribery and corruption allegations dogged the bidding process.
An official Qatari statement is expected later Friday.
Fans of Belgian beer look away now: Bud Zero, which is non-alcoholic, will still be available.