Soccer  

FIFA, Qatar in late talks over beer at World Cup stadiums

FIFA and World Cup organisers are engaged in last-minute showdown talks over whether beer will be sold at the stadiums during the tournament, sources have told ESPN.

First reported by British newspaper The Times, it is understood FIFA are under increasing pressure to backtrack on plans to have beer available to purchase within the confines of the stadium during the World Cup, which begins on Sunday.

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Qatar is a dry country with Islam the state religion and the sale of alcohol has been a constant narrative in the build up to the tournament. While supporters can purchase alcohol at the official fan zones during the competition, the sale of beer at the matches themselves has been a controversial topic.

It appeared an agreement was originally struck to allow FIFA to permit sponsors Budweiser to sell beer at the stadiums. This was then further clarified in the build up to the tournament after the New York Times first reported that the beer tents would be less visible at the grounds on request of the hosts.

At the time a spokesperson for Budweiser owner AB InBev told Sky News: “AB InBev was informed on Nov. 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.”

But it has now emerged there is late pressure on FIFA to halt sales of alcohol at the stadiums themselves. With hosts Qatar kicking off the tournament on Sunday against Ecuador, a resolution is expected before the start of the competition.

It is expected that if sales of beer is prohibited, it would still be available for those who have paid for the hospitality packages.

The tournament was awarded to Qatar back in 2010 but despite the competition starting in two days’ time, the situation around the sale of beer is just one of several last-minute adjustments and teething problems occurring in Qatar.

Building work is ongoing around the various fan parks, transport hubs and stadiums. Meanwhile, some of the temporary fan accommodation has also come in for heavy criticism.

There are more luxurious options available like the ships docked in Doha. At the Old Port, there are already two, vast passenger ships waiting for fans to board with a third expected to arrive on Friday. The port has also undergone reconstruction to provide restaurants and shops to those staying there, but on Thursday there was still last-minute building work being undertaken.

The same goes for the metro hubs and stadiums where the buildings and grounds are ready to host, but the areas around the facilities are still being finished off.