FIFA and Qatar on Friday banned beer sales around the eight World Cup stadiums in a stunning policy u-turn just two days before the start of the tournament.
Football’s global governing body said the decision was taken following “discussions” with World Cup host Qatar, an Islamic state which severely restricts alcohol consumption.
Also Read | FIFA WC 2022: After Maradona, who will be Qatar’s Sorcerer Supreme?
It gave no reason for the surprise decision, however.
A FIFA statement said alcohol would be focused on fan zones, “removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.”
Dozens of beer tents had already been set up at stadiums ahead of the first game Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador.
Qatar has predicted that more than one million fans will visit the country for the 29-day tournament and FIFA has had a longstanding sponsorship deal with major beer producer Budweiser, which is owned by AB InBev.
Also Read | FIFA WC: Ronaldo not thinking about ‘predicted final’ against Messi’s Argentina
“The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone duing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” added the statement.
Beer will remain available in VIP suites in stadiums, which are sold by world football’s governing body, at the main FIFA fan zone in Doha, some private fan zones and in about 35 hotel and restaurant bars.