Fan fury as beer is banned at World Cup stadiums after FIFA talks with Qatar 2022 bosses

FIFA via Getty Images

The sale of beer around stadiums during the World Cup has been banned after talks between FIFA and Qatari tournament chiefs.

It was revealed on Friday by FIFA that alcohol would not be available as expected in the perimeter area of stadiums.

Budweiser is a major FIFA sponsor and sales of its product had been expected to be allowed close to the stadiums; however, only its alcohol-free variant will now be available.

The news was swiftly criticised, with England's Football Supporters' Association questioning whether such an apparent U-turn could be followed by more promises not being kept.

Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe (FSE), expressed similar concern, describing the news as an "extremely worrying" development.

FIFA said in its announcement: "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 licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar's FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.

"Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans."

Referencing Budweiser's parent company, FIFA added: "The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev's understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."

Reports said Budweiser posted on Twitter "Well, this is awkward", before deleting the post.

The Football Supporters' Association (FSA) said its concern was less about the beer decision but about the prospect of fans being affected by possible further unexpected decisions at the controversial mid-season World Cup.

The FSA said in a statement: "Some fans like a beer at the match, and some don't, but the real issue is the last-minute U-turn which speaks to a wider problem – the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters."

It condemned the lack of explanation and said fans would have "understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues".

FSE's Evain added on Twitter: "For many fans, whether they don't drink alcohol or are used to dry stadium policies at home, this is a detail. It won't change their tournament.

"But with 48h to go, we've clearly entered a dangerous territory – where 'assurances' don’t matter anymore. This is extremely worrying."