FIFA boss says fans can survive for three hours without beer

FIFA president Gianni Infantino defended World Cup host country Qatar’s last gasp decision to ban beer at games.

The alcohol ban at stadiums was first announced on Friday, two days before the start of the event and reversed an earlier agreement to allow FIFA sponsor Anheuser-Busch InBev NV to sell Budweiser beer. What is usually the world’s largest sporting event — a decade in the planning — kicks off Sunday with the hosts taking on Ecuador.

The ban highlights misunderstandings between the world’s largest brewer, the conservative Muslim country and FIFA, the international governing body of football, over a partnership Global Data said was worth $72 million. Infantino brushed off the ban, saying similar rules existed in France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland.

“If for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive,” Infantino said Saturday at a press conference in Doha.

High-end hospitality suites — serving spirits and champagne — will still be able to serve alcohol to guests during the match. Budweiser Zero, the no-alcohol version of the American brew, will also be sold at stadiums.

Infantino said Fifa has a great partnership with Budweiser. “I am very grateful to them in this respect for their collaboration,” he said. “This partnership decision has brought us closer together.”

© 2022 Bloomberg