DOHA, Qatar — The tiny but very wealthy Gulf country of Qatar has been getting ready to host the World Cup of soccer for 12 years. During this marathon of planning and patience, it has built stadiums, hotels, roads, sidewalks, and even a shiny new subway system.
Yet, it didn’t decide what to do about selling beer during the tournament until Friday. To the dismay of the nearly one million fans who will be there in the next few days, the decision was to ban the sale of beer at the eight stadiums.
Qatar Bans Beer Sales At World Cup Stadiums
The decision, made public by FIFA, the global soccer governing body, was a sudden change of heart by Qatar and the latest example of the clash of cultures that comes with holding the tournament in a small, conservative Middle Eastern monarchy.
Since Qatar was unexpectedly given the right to host the World Cup more than a decade ago, local organizers and soccer leaders worldwide have said that fans will be able to buy beer. Beer is a standard part of sporting events worldwide, but it is tightly controlled in Qatar. But that message changed two days before the first game.
Instead, Qatari officials have decided that fans can only buy non-alcoholic drinks at games.
Thousands of fans on their way to the World Cup didn’t find out about the news until their flights landed in Doha. On Friday, tseven Mexican fans who had just moved to Qatar were shocked that they couldn’t drink in stadiums.
“It’s terrible; I didn’t expect to hear that,” said 29-year-old Diego Anbric. He is going to the World Cup for the first time. “That’s bad news. Beer is part of the atmosphere of the stadium.”
It’s not clear what made the ban happen so close to the start of the tournament, but the sudden change was in line with the tournament’s always-changing rules about alcohol and how fans can get it while they watch games. Plans have been made, changed, and repeatedly made, which could signify that politics at home or even the royal family are playing a role.
“After talking with the host country’s officials, FIFA has decided to sell alcohol mostly at the FIFA Fan Festival, other places where fans gather, and licensed venues,” FIFA said. It said the decision would mean that “beer sales points would have to be removed from the outside of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums.” ;
The decision to ban beer comes a week after an earlier order that dozens of red beer tents with the logo of Budweiser, a longtime World Cup sponsor and the official beer of the tournament, would have to be moved to less visible places at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, away from where most of the crowds attending the games would pass.
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A Quick Guide to the World Cup in 2022
What is the World Cup?
The best soccer teams from each country compete in this event every four years to see who will be named the world champion. Here’s an overview of the men’s tournament in 2022:
Where is it being held?
This year’s tournament will be held in Qatar, which beat out the U.S. and Japan to win the right to do so in 2010. Whether or not that was a fair competition is still up for debate.
When is it?
On November 20, Qatar will play Ecuador in the tournament’s first game. On most days over the next two weeks, there will be four games. The last match of the contest is on December 18. Here is the complete list of games.
How many teams are competing?
Thirty-two. Qatar got in automatically because it was the host, and the other 31 teams earned the right to play after years of games. Here are the teams.
How does the tournament work?
There are eight groups of four teams, each with four teams. In the first stage, each team plays its group’s other teams once. In each group, the top two finishers move on to the round of 16. After that, there are no more group stages in the World Cup.
How can I see the World Cup in the United States?
The tournament will be shown on Fox, FS1, and Telemundo in English and Spanish, respectively. You can watch it live on Peacock or on services that stream Fox and FS1.
When are the games going to happen?
Qatar is ahead of London by five hours, New York by eight hours, and Los Angeles by eleven hours. This means that some games will start before dawn on the East Coast of the United States, while fun in Qatar at 10 p.m. will start in the middle of the afternoon.
More About The News
Staff members were told that the earlier change was made because of security advice, according to three people who were there at the time. But the fact that the change was thought to have come from Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the brother of Qatar’s ruler and the royal who was in charge of most of the day-to-day planning for the tournament, made it seem like it couldn’t be changed.
Now, fans won’t just have to look hard to find beer; they won’t be able to get it at all.
The ban is the latest and most dramatic disagreement between FIFA and Qatar. Qatar had wanted to host the World Cup to make a name for itself on the world stage and had won the right to do so. In the past few weeks, Qatari government leaders, like the emir, have been speaking out more strongly to defend their country.
But their latest change of mind will anger fans, make it hard for organizers to make changes, and make it harder for FIFA to keep its $75 million sponsorship deal with Budweiser.
Budweiser has been a big part of the World Cup since it became a FIFA sponsor a year before the 1986 tournament in Mexico. It had also planned to be a big part of the tournament in Qatar.
By Friday, it had already taken over the luxury W Hotel in one of Doha’s most exclusive neighborhoods, where it planned to host guests and show live matches and beer. But it couldn’t stop Qatar from banning its products. This showed that FIFA, which has been criticized for years for bringing its biggest tournament to the country, may no longer have complete control over significant decisions about the tournament.
Ten years ago, when Brazil was hosting the 2014 World Cup, the soccer body put pressure on the Brazilian government to change a law that said beer couldn’t be sold in stadiums, which had been illegal in Brazil since 2003.
In Qatar, however, FIFA has given in to what the host country wants. This made it possible that other promises, like press freedom, street protests, and the rights of LGBTQ+ visitors, which go against local laws and customs, might not be as solid as Qatar and FIFA have said.
The Football Supporters Association, a U.K… fan group, said the decision was wrong.
“Some fans like a beer at a game and some don’t, but the real issue is the last-minute U-turn, which points to a bigger problem: the organizing committee’s complete lack of communication and clarity with fans,” the group said in a statement. “If they can change their minds about this at any time without giving a reason, supporters have a right to wonder if they will keep other promises about housing, transportation, or cultural issues.”
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The alcohol ban seemed to only apply to people who went to games. There will still be beer and other drinks, like an official FIFA Champagne and a variety of wines chosen by a sommelier, in the stadium’s luxury suites for FIFA officials and other wealthy guests.
Since 2010, when the tiny Gulf country of Qatar won the right to host the World Cup, it has had trouble with alcohol. There is alcohol in the country, but it is tough to get. Even before the World Cup, most visitors could only buy beer and other alcoholic drinks in high-end hotel bars and at very high prices.
There’s always been a 2-tiered system for alcohol in the Gulf. The wealthy get it but force piousness on the rest:
— Maria Abi-Habib (@Abihabib) November 18, 2022
World Cup organizers seemed eager to make Budweiser and its parent company, the Belgium-based multinational Anheuser-Busch InBev, happy. They said, “Tournament organizers appreciate A.B… InBev’s understanding and continued support of our joint commitment to serve everyone.” At first, the company’s only public comment was a funny tweet that said, “Well, this is awkward….” About 90 minutes later, just before FIFA’s statement came out, the tweet was taken down.
Later, a representative said the company would have to cancel some of its World Cup marketing plans “due to things we couldn’t control.”
Last week, Qatari organizers tried to ease tensions over beer sales, which have been a part of every World Cup for decades, by saying that operational plans were still being finalized and that “the location of certain fan areas” was still being changed. It also said that at all eight stadiums, “pouring times and the number of pouring locations” stayed the same.
Budweiser gives $75 million to FIFA every four years for the World Cup. The company said it worked with organizers “to move the concession outlets to where they were told to be.” With the new plan, the brewer’s red tents may no longer be visible around stadiums. Instead, white tents without a brand name are being considered. The company’s famous red refrigerators will likely be replaced by blue ones, Budweiser Zero’s non-alcoholic brand color.
Stay tuned for more updates on NogMagazine.com