Budweiser beer stands at the eight World Cup stadiums are being moved aside to less prominent spots just days before the games start, Qatari organisers said on Monday.
It’s the latest change in World Cup planning that started more than a decade ago in the majority-Muslim emirate where alcohol sales are strictly regulated.
Qatar consented when launching its historic hosting bid in 2009 to respect FIFA’s commercial partnerships, including the long-established Budweiser deal that was renewed 11 years ago with brewer AB InBev through the 2022 tournament.
World Cup organisers finally confirmed a beer sales policy in September covering the stadiums and official FIFA-authorised fan sites.
On Saturday, just eight days before the first games, the agreement was tweaked to give Budweiser-branded sales tents less visibility for serving beer with alcohol within stadium perimeters.
“AB InBev was informed on November 12 and are working with FIFA to relocate the concession outlets to locations as directed,” the Belgium-based company, which includes Anheuser-Busch, said on Monday in a statement. “We are working with FIFA to bring the best possible experience to the fans.”
In Qatar, World Cup organisers said “operational plans are being finalised.”
“These plans include venue management teams enhancing overlay requirements for all competition venues,” Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said, referring to adorning sports events with temporary branding and facilities for officials.
“This has a direct impact on the location of certain fan areas,” said the organisers, who declined to address a question about who took 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.