World Cup fans in Qatar will not be allowed to buy alcohol at the tournament’s eight stadiums.
The U-turn comes 48 hours before the competition’s opening game between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor on Sunday.
Qatar had originally ordered Budweiser stands to be less prominent, but now alcohol won’t be sold at all at stadiums – with the exception of corporate spectators. Those in corporate hospitality at stadiums will still be allowed to drink alcohol.
FIFA said: “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.”
It added Bud Zero would still be available and that it would “continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans”.
Budweiser has a $75 million sponsorship with FIFA – an agreement that will now be complicated by Qatar’s u-turn. As the decision was announced, Budweiser wrote in a now-deleted tweet: “Well, this is awkward…”
The hosts are believed to have changed their minds due to concerns local fans will be made to feel uncomfortable surrounded by drunk foreign fans.