Qatar World Cup to ban alcohol around stadiums in last-ditch U-turn

Qatar World Cup organisers are poised to announce that no alcohol will be sold around stadium sites at the tournament in a major late U-turn.

The move comes just two days before the start of the World Cup, when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in Doha.

Budweiser was contracted to sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding the eight World Cup venues, in a designated window three hours before each match and one hour afterwards.

The move by Qatari authorities follows last week’s decision to hide away stalls which sell alcohol from main thoroughfares, and leaves Fifa in a potentially compromised position with Budweiser’s parent company AB InBev, which sponsors the tournament to the tune of around £70m in exchange for exclusive rights to sell beer.

AB InBev’s deal with Fifa was renewed in 2011 — after Qatar was picked as host — in a two-tournament package through 2022. However, the Belgium-based brewer has faced uncertainty in recent months on the exact details of where it can serve and sell beer in Qatar.

An agreement was announced in September for beer with alcohol to be sold within the stadium perimeters before and after games. Only alcohol-free Bud Zero would be sold in the stadium concourses for fans to drink in their seats in branded cups.

Budweiser was also to be sold in the evenings only at the official Fifa fan zone in downtown Al Bidda Park, where up to 40,000 fans can gather to watch games on giant screens. The price was confirmed as £12 for a beer.

Ab InBev did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company will be based at an upscale hotel in the West Bay area of Doha with its own branded nightclub for the tournament.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the host country was forced to change a law to allow alcohol sales in stadiums.

Additional reporting by AP

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