FIFA has announced that alcohol will no longer be sold to football fans at Qatar World Cup stadiums.
The news comes as an abrupt U-turn, as alcoholic beverages were set to be served inside arenas. This has now been reversed just two days before the start of the tournament on Sunday.
The news was confirmed in a statement from FIFA:
“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licenced venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters. There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero, which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.”
For the Football Supporters' Association (FSA), the association of English fans, "this last-minute about-face illustrates a broader problem: the total lack of communication and transparency of the organising committee towards the fans".
"If they can change their minds at the drop of a hat, supporters will have understandable concerns about their ability to deliver on other issues, such as housing, transportation and cultural issues," the association said.
The move also delivers a significant blow to World Cup beer sponsor Budweiser, which was the only company to be allowed to sell alcoholic beer within the perimeter of the stadiums.
In response to Qatar's decision, Budweiser's official Twitter accounted tweeted: “Well, this is awkward...”
The tweet was later deleted.
The subject of alcohol has been a hot topic ever since Qatar was awarded World Cup hosting rights in 2010.
Alcohol is available in Qatar, but sales are strictly controlled.