Qatar puts a last minute beer ban at World Cup stadiums

With only 48 hours until the tournament's first game, beer will only be available in Qatar fan zones after 6.30pm and drunk fans will be sent to special zones to sober up

Photo: FIFA
Photo: FIFA

Only non-alcoholic beverages will be sold to spectators at the World Cup stadiums, after a u-turn ahead of the tournament's first game on Sunday.

Qatari and World Cup officials confirmed on Friday that alcohol will not be sold at stadiums, and will only be available in designated fan zones. 

In a statement, FIFA said that a decision was taken to focus the sale of alocholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival and other fan destinations and licensed venues. There will be no sales points of beer in stadium perimeters. 

The decision is the most recent and significant modification to the World Cup's alcohol plan, causing tension between world football association FIFA and Qatar, a devout Muslim country. 

This decision makes FIFA's $75 million sponsorship deal with Budweiser more difficult. As one of FIFA's biggest sponsors, Budweiser had the exclusive rights to sell beer at World Cup matches.

Instead, only the non-alcoholic Bud Zero will be available for purchase at Qatar's World Cup stadiums.

The decision also comes a mere 48 hours before the first game of the World Cup tournament on Sunday. 

Originally, ticket holders were permitted to purchase beer inside the stadium's perimeter "three hours before kick-off and one hour after the final whistle." In fact, the organisation’s official fan guide notes ticket holders will have access to Budweiser, Budweiser Zero, and Coca-Cola products within the stadium perimeter.

It is unclear if alcohol will still be available in corporate areas. Alcohol sales in Qatar are only permitted in hotel bars and restaurants hidden from public view.