FIFA announced the rule just two days before kickoff. Qatari authorities had previously promised to allow the sale of beer within the ticketed areas around stadiums.
The organizers of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar will ban the sale of alcohol at stadiums, according to a statement released on Friday.
It comes just two days before the beginning of the tournament — the first to be hosted in the Middle East and in a majority-Muslim country.
“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,” a FIFA statement said on Friday.
FIFA said organizers of the event were hoping to “ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.”
Beer plan scrapped
The move backtracks on an agreement to sell beer to football fans in specific areas and at specific times, in a country where alcohol is heavily controlled and off-limits to most of the population.
American brewery Budweiser has a sponsorship deal with FIFA worth $75 million (€72 million).
It has had the exclusive right to sell beer at World Cup tournament since 1986.
In Qatar, Budweiser had planned to sell alcohol within the ticketed perimeter of the eight World Cup stadiums for a window spanning three hours before each game and one hour after each game.
“A larger number of fans are attending from across the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play such a large role in the culture,” an inside source told the Reuters news agency shortly before the official announcement.
However, Budweiser will still sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha, the source said. A half pint will cost around $14 (€9).