Qatari officials try to drown beer at the World Cup
The Future. Eight days before the start of the World Cup, Qatar is going head-to-head with one of the event’s top sponsors, Budweiser. The games’ organizers want to wheel the beer stations… er… somewhere out of view, basically treating the brand like a burden. The situation could spark a call from advertisers for FIFA to avoid hosting the World Cup in countries that might make their business difficult.
Royal brown bag
NYT reports that an edict came down from the Qatari royal family that the Budweiser-branded beer stations need to be moved from their agreed-upon spot “within a security perimeter outside venues but not inside the stadium bowls themselves.”
- Where exactly? It’s unclear, but essentially away from other concession areas, merch stalls, and other activations.
- Why? Qatari officials cite that the overwhelming presence of beer could “unsettle the local population and thus represent a potential security problem.”
The moves are sure to ruffle Budweiser’s feathers, which has been one of the top sponsors of the games for nearly four decades — it pays $75 million every four years for sales exclusivity and provides beer for FIFA partners and guests during the event.
A field of controversy
Budweiser has been planning with Qatari organizers for a decade on how to bring beer into the country, which NYT describes as “a conservative Muslim country where access to alcohol is tightly controlled.” Citizens are only allowed to buy alcohol at bars inside designated hotels. So, yeah, beer is a complicated subject in the country.
But that’s only one of the many controversies that have engulfed Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup. A report from Rolling Stone found that over 6,500 migrant workers have died building infrastructure for the games due to poor working conditions. And in the run-up to the games, high-profile artists like Dua Lipa and Rod Stewart have turned down offers to perform because of the country’s human-rights abuses.
FIFA may be playing a losing game.