You could well call it nipping it in the bud. On Friday, FIFA and the Qatar government dropped a bombshell on the FIFA World Cup when they said Budweiser beer would not be sold inside the eight stadia which will host matches from Sunday.
For a World Cup already rocked by controversies, from labor building the stadia being treated as slaves to other human rights violations, the beer ban has come at the 11th hour. There will be legal wrangles in the coming days and weeks as Budweiser had entered a $ 75 million sponsorship deal with FIFA, which runs the global sport.
“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,” read a FIFA statement.
In effect, what it means is beer will be available only at the fan zone and adjoining licensed areas but not inside the venues where the 32 teams in eight groups will be competing. On Sunday, when the opening ceremony takes place, as it is superstars like Shakira and Dua Lipa will not be performing. There were rumors that these two would be whipping up the audience. That seems to have been a rumor as Shakira has been dealing with several issues in her personal life after splitting with Gerard Pique. One may well ask what is the big deal about Shaikra at this World Cup. Since the time she shook and stirred the audience at the 2010 World Cup opening ceremony in South Africa with her Waka Waka number, Shakira has become symbolic with the World Cup. Not only will the star singers be missing, but the fans will also find it hard to cheer, shout, and scream, minus the lager intake.
Fan zones and designated areas alone can sell Budweiser beer during the FIFA World Cup as per latest communication from FIFA
It is well-known football is a raucous sport where fans are engaged with the game in the loudest and most lewd way. Being loud is still possible in Qatar as none will ask you to keep quiet but surely there is no chance of being lewd any which way as there will be restrictions. As it were, with so many rules in place, from a no-no to homosexual relationships and consumption of pork meat, the beer ban has come like a bolt from the blue.
Beer is consumed not in cans but in gallons by fans, mostly Europeans, Americans, and Latin Americans. In fact, beer is considered essential for watching matches, as it gives the fan a nice mood to enjoy the game better. In Europe and other parts of the world, the consumption of beer at football venues is accepted without any glitches. When these fans turn violent or abusive, they are known as lager louts. Fights have often broken out between fans of various clubs and even national teams. All because fans are in a state of stupor and can act foolish, man or woman. The way Qatar is imposing sanctions, this will be a quiet World Cup. Minus the scream and belch after beer, cheering is bound to be muted.
So, how did this happen, really, at the 11th hour? It is believed there was pressure from the top of the Qatar government, as it is an Arab country. FIFA had to be quiet and accept this is a shock to fans. After all, they will be flying in from countries very far away. For those from Europe or Latin America or Argentina and Brazil, beer is something as important as drinking water. They do not see beer as a taboo. Having bought tickets for the matches at high prices and staying in very expensive hotels, fans will probably have to “tank up” in their hotel rooms and go to the match. The grapevine says the only drink which will be sold inside the stadia will be non-alcoholic! Imagine, what lows FIFA has brought down the World Cup.
The Western world is as it is upset with Qatar as a venue for several reasons. And with the beer ban coming into force at venues and no Shakira music to gyrate to at the opening ceremony, this World Cup will be flat. Oops, no comparison with the quality of the stale beer! Out there in Qatar, it will be no beer when matches are on. Sounds depressing, isn’t it?