It seemed understood that beer stalls would open around Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums three hours before and one hour after matches, but no alcoholic beverages will ultimately be allowed for sale in these spaces.
This reversal, revealed by the Reuters agency, citing “a source aware of this decision”was confirmed shortly after by FIFA, two days before the start of the competition on Sunday.
Alcohol will be allowed in fan zones and “hospitalities”
“Following discussions between the authorities of the host country and FIFA”it was decided to “remove beer outlets from stadium perimeters” and of “concentrate the sale of alcoholic beverages” in fan zones and authorized establishments (hotels, etc.), specifies a press release from FIFA, without giving the reasons for such a decision. The hospitality areas in the stadiums will also remain authorized for the consumption of alcohol.
The volte face of the organizers of the World Cup is the product of long negotiations between FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Budweiser, brewer sponsor of the World Cup, and the authorities of Qatar, advance Reuters.
The Qatari authorities reportedly argued that most of the supporters present “come from the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol does not play such a big role in the culture”.
Fans worried about the rest of the World Cup
The first reactions of the supporters are critical, not so much because of the removal of the beer stands around the stadiums as of the late reversal of the organizers which, according to them, does not bode well for the future.
For the Federation of English Supporters (FSA), “The real problem is the last-minute reversal which goes back to a larger issue – namely the utter lack of communication and clarity from the organizing committee to the supporters. »
“If they can change their minds on this at any time, without explanation,supporters may legitimately worry about whether they will fulfill other promises regarding accommodation, transport or cultural matters,” continues the statement of the FSA.
Ronan Evain, the French president of Football Supporters Europe (FSE), is on the same line. “For many fans (the alcohol issue) it’s a detail. It won’t change anything in their tournament. But with 48 hours to go, we’ve clearly entered dangerous territory – where “insurance” no longer matter. It is extremely worrying. »