In speaking during an hour-long surprise monologue during a press conference on the eve of the World Cup’s opening game in Qatar, as quoted by the BBC, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has insisted that the tournament’s last minute decision to ban beer sales for fans at grounds was a “joint decision” with FIFA.
After being controversially awarded the World Cup 12 years ago, organisers had long planned that beer would be sold at the tournament, despite Qatar authorities strictly controlling alcohol otherwise, via FIFA’s sponsor Budweiser, who pay $75m per World Cup cycle to be the tournament’s beer sponsor.
However, earlier this week beer stands were hurriedly moved to more discreet locations at grounds, reportedly at the request of the Qatari Royal Family, before being removed altogether yesterday just 48 hours before the start of the tournament. Now only those in box suites will be able to buy alcohol at stadia in Qatar. Infantino said:
“Let me first assure you that every decision taken at this World Cup is a joint decision between Qatar and FIFA. There will be many fan zones where you can buy alcohol in Qatar and fans can simultaneously drink alcohol. I think, if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive. Especially because the same rules apply in France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland. Here it has become a big thing because it is a Muslim country? I don’t know why. We tried and that is why I give you the late change of policy. We tried to see if it was possible.”