Qatar World Cup 2022: Organisers u-turn on alcohol drinks sales at stadiums
Set to start on Sunday, this year's World Cup will be the first to be hosted by a Muslim-majority country where consumption of alcohol is strictly regulated.
Fifa said in a statement that zero-alcohol beers will still be available at stadiums while alcoholic beverages will be sold at Fifa fan zones and other licensed venues.
'The thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience'
According to a source familiar with issue who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, the decision was made after discussions between Fifa, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), and beer giant Budweiser.
"A larger number of fans are attending from across the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play such a large role in the culture,” the source told Reuters.
"The thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience," the source added.
In September, the tournament organisers announced that fans could buy alcohol up to three hours before the World Cup matches and one hour after in select areas around each stadium.
Later in the month, Qatar also announced that spectators will be allowed to consume alcohol for up to 19 hours a day at the Arcadia Spectacular electronic music festival venue, set to take place between 19 November and 19 December. The average price of half a litre of beer would cost almost $14.
Beer sales at the Qatar World Cup have presented unique challenges for organisers of an event sponsored by major beer brand Budweiser and often associated with beer-drinking fans.
Alcohol consumption in public places is illegal in Qatar although it can be bought at a number of licensed hotels and clubs, where a pint of beer can cost $18.
On Tuesday, the red tents of Budweiser were shifted to less visible places in Qatar, but with the new decision, Budweiser's sales points are expected to be removed altogether.