World Cup organizers move beer sales to less prominent areas

Budweiser beer stands in the eight World Cup stadiums are being moved to less prominent locations just days before the games start, Qatari organizers said on Monday.

It is the latest change in World Cup planning that began more than a decade ago in the Muslim-majority emirate, where the sale of alcohol is strictly regulated.

Qatar accepted when it launched its landmark hosting bid in 2009 to honor FIFA’s commercial partnerships, including Budweiser’s long-standing deal that was renewed 11 years ago with brewer AB InBev during the 2022 tournament.

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World Cup organizers finally confirmed a beer sales policy in September covering stadiums and official FIFA-authorized fan sites.

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On Saturday, just eight days before the first games, the deal was modified to give Budweiser-branded tents less visibility for serving alcoholic beer inside the stadium perimeter.

“AB InBev was informed on November 12 and is working with FIFA to move concession points to locations as directed,” the Belgium-based company, which includes Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement on Monday. “We are working with FIFA to bring the best possible experience for fans.”

In Qatar, World Cup organizers said “operational plans are being finalised”.

“These plans include venue management teams that increase the overlay requirements for all competition venues,” Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Handover and Legacy said, referring to sprucing up sporting events with temporary branding and facilities for officials.

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“This has a direct impact on the location of certain fan areas,” said organizers, who declined to address a question about who made the decision.

Four years ago in Russia, a Budweiser beer stand had one of the most prominent positions for sponsors outside Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, which hosted the opening game and the final.

Red tents for Budweiser and Coca-Cola — two of FIFA’s longest-running sponsors since the 1980s and 1970s, respectively — were set up next to the statue of Vladimir Lenin that faced fans approaching the main entrance to the stadium. the stadium.

FIFA does not publish the value of individual World Cup commercial deals, but a second-tier sponsorship like Budweiser is worth tens of millions of dollars.

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The compromise on the sale of beer in Qatar was only announced in September and allowed alcoholic beer to be served before and after matches on the perimeter of the stadium. Only non-alcoholic Bud Zero may be served during games and inside the stadium bowl.

Champagne, wines and spirits as well as beer will be served in the stadium’s restaurants and lounges for corporate hospitality customers. Fans staying in most of the high-end hotels and on the three cruise ships hired by the organizers as floating hotels for the tournament can also purchase a range of alcoholic beverages.

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