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Qatar Bans Beer Sales at World Cup Stadiums

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DOHA, Qatar — Beer is out on the World Cup.

In an abrupt about-face, Qatari officials have decided that the one drinks that shall be on sale to fans at stadiums through the monthlong World Cup shall be nonalcoholic.

The choice, which got here two days before the tournament’s opening match, was confirmed on Friday by FIFA, the tournament’s owner.

“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a choice has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues,” FIFA announced. The choice, it said, would mean “removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.”

The ban on beer is the newest and most dramatic change to an evolving alcohol plan that has for months increased tensions between FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, and Qatar, a conservative Muslim nation where the sale of alcohol is tightly controlled. However it also will complicate FIFA’s $75 million sponsorship agreement with Budweiser; infuriate fans already chafing at restrictions, costs and inconveniences across the event; and once more leave organizers scrambling to regulate — this time only 48 hours before the tournament’s opening game on Sunday.

However it also suggested that FIFA, which has faced years of blistering criticism for its decision to bring its showpiece championship to Qatar, may now not be in full control of major decisions related to its event. A decade ago, for instance, the soccer body pressured Brazil for just the alternative final result: leaning on the Brazilian government to vary a law to be able to allow beer to be sold in stadiums, a practice that had been banned in Brazil since 2003.

A Temporary Guide to the 2022 World Cup

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What’s the World Cup? The quadrennial event pits the very best national soccer teams against one another for the title of world champion. Here’s a primer to the 2022 men’s tournament:

Where is it being held? This 12 months’s host is Qatar, which in 2010 beat the USA and Japan to win the correct to carry the tournament. Whether that was an honest competition stays in dispute.

When is it? The tournament will open on Nov. 20, when Qatar plays Ecuador. Over the 2 weeks that follow, 4 games shall be played on most days. The tournament ends with the ultimate on Dec. 18. Here’s the complete match schedule.

What number of teams are competing? Thirty-two. Qatar qualified robotically because the host, and after years of matches, the opposite 31 teams earned the correct to come back and play. Meet the teams here.

How does the tournament work? The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of 4. Within the opening stage, each team plays all the opposite teams in its group once. The highest two finishers in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.

How can I watch the World Cup within the U.S.? The tournament shall be broadcast on Fox and FS1 in English, and on Telemundo in Spanish. You possibly can livestream it on Peacock, or on streaming services that carry Fox and FS1.

When will the games happen? Qatar is five hours ahead of London, eight hours ahead of Recent York and 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Meaning there shall be predawn kickoffs on the East Coast of the USA for some games, and midafternoon starts for 10 p.m. games in Qatar.

Got more questions? We’ve got more answers here.

In Qatar, FIFA has as an alternative bowed to the demands of the host country. That raised the chance that other guarantees that run counter to local laws and customs — including issues like press freedom, street protests and the rights of LGBTQ+ visitors — weren’t as rock-solid as Qatar and FIFA have said.

The ban on alcohol consumption appeared to apply only to fans attending games. Beer and other drinks, including an official FIFA Champagne and an array of sommelier-selected wines, will still be available in stadium luxury suites reserved for FIFA officials and other wealthy guests.

The choice to ban beer comes per week after an earlier edict that dozens of red beer tents bearing Budweiser’s branding be moved to more discrete locations on the World Cup’s eight stadiums, away from where a lot of the crowds attending games would pass.

World Cup staff members were told the move followed security advice. But the idea that the change had originated with Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani — the brother of Qatar’s ruling emir and the royal most lively within the day-to-day planning of the tournament — suggested it was nonnegotiable.

One official involved in the method said FIFA officials agreed because they were concerned that in the event that they didn’t they risked seeing Budweiser’s concessions being shut down entirely.

Qatar has grappled with the topic of alcohol ever because the tiny Gulf nation was awarded World Cup hosting rights in 2010. Alcohol is on the market within the country, but sales are strictly controlled. Most visitors, even before the World Cup, were permitted to purchase beer and other alcoholic beverages only in upscale hotel bars and at unusually high prices.

World Cup organizers appeared desirous to mollify Budweiser and its corporate parent, the Belgium-based multinational Anheuser-Busch InBev, saying, “tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everybody.”

Representatives for Budweiser, who had suggested last week that they were blindsided by Qatar’s earlier changes to their sales strategy for the World Cup, didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

The corporate’s only public statement was a wry one from its Twitter account, which wrote, “Well, that is awkward….’ The tweet was deleted about 90 minutes later, and just before FIFA’s statement was released.

Last week, Qatari organizers tried to play down the rising tension over beer sales, a fixture of World Cups for generations, by saying that operational plans were still being finalized, and that changes were still being made in “the placement of certain fan areas.” Its statement also noted that “pouring times and the variety of pouring destinations” remained the identical in any respect eight stadiums.

Budweiser, which pays FIFA the $75 million for every four-year World Cup cycle, had said it was working with organizers “to relocate the concession outlets to locations as directed.”

The latest plan implies that the brewer’s red tents now is probably not visible in any respect around stadiums; unbranded white replacements are being considered. Fridges in the corporate’s famous red colours are prone to get replaced by blue ones, the colour related to Budweiser’s nonalcoholic brand, Budweiser Zero.

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