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Qatar to announce shock beer ban at World Cup stadiums



 Qatar to announce shock beer ban at World Cup stadiums

Beer will no longer be available to fans around stadiums at the World Cup after Fifa was forced into an embarrassing U-turn by Qatar’s ultra-conservative rulers.

Just two days before Qatar faces Ecuador in the opening match of the tournament, the country changed its mind about allowing supporters arriving at venues to access alcohol at stalls outside.

Senior figures confirmed that Fifa had come under pressure from Qatar – and will release a statement confirming this afternoon that sales will no longer take place. As it stands, no immediate complaints have been raised about alcohol sales in fan zones.

Potential contractual changes to policy could be hugely costly for Fifa. Budweiser spends a report $75 million to partner with the World Cup every four years.

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The furore adds to concerns about whether Qatar is ready for the World Cup, with many water fountains at airports, metros and stadium still switched off. Road workers are also racing to repair potholes and fans have expressed dismay about £12 beer prices within the main fan zone.

Talks about alcohol sales were continuing on Friday morning and figures but Fifa and the Qatar Supreme Committee have not yet made an official comment.

Qatar is a dry nation with alcohol normally available only in certain hotels. It appears that concern has been raised at very high levels of the country’s leadership.

Hospitality boxes costing around £19,000 are the now the only place within stadiums where alcohol will be served.

Budweiser is one of Fifa’s biggest sponsors but had already been told to relocate stalls selling its product at stadiums to less prominent locations.

Bud owner AB InBev has also been contacted for comment.

In response to an earlier request to move its outlets, AB InBev told Sky News: “AB InBev was informed on November 12 and are working with Fifa to relocate the concession outlets to locations as directed.

“We are working with Fifa to bring the best possible experience to the fans. Our focus is on delivering the best possible consumer experience under the new circumstances.”

Elsewhere, it has been confirmed that Fifa is selling hospitality packages to attend its “fan festival” in Qatar – and stay out of the blazing sunshine – for as much as £960 per day.

Gerdine Lindhout, Fifa’s head of experiential marketing and promotion, said of the fan festival: “This is the best place to be when you are not in the stadium. It will be a multidimensional, festival-like experience. It’s not just about football, it’s about gaming, lifestyle and amazing food. We have decided to go huge in Doha.”

On the question of heat she added: “It is definitely hot but there are enough areas where there is a shadow and we have enough refreshing beverages so I do not see a problem there. People have to use their logical minds – and dress for the occasion. Wear your shorts, wear something light and enjoy some refreshing beverages.”





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