World Cup fans will only get beer outside stadiums

World Cup fans will only get beer outside stadiums

World Cup fans will only get beer outside stadiums

Beer will not be sold inside stadiums during World Cup matches in Qatar, where alcohol is severely restricted, but FIFA has said that drinking will be allowed in the stadium zone before and after games.

The global body gave first details of beer sales after months of sensitive talks with authorities in the conservative Muslim Gulf state.

The issue is important for FIFA as beer-maker Budweiser has been a major sponsor for three decades while foreign fans have also questioned what to expect at the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 tournament.

Qatar has predicted more than 1 million visitors for the World Cup.

A source with knowledge of the plans said beer stands would open in zones around stadiums when gates open for a match and close 30 minutes before each game starts.

The source said stands would reopen for a short time after the game.

FIFA did not confirm times but a spokesperson said it had focused on “catering for those who wish to enjoy an alcoholic drink while being respectful towards the local culture”.

In a statement to AFP, the spokesperson said “ticket-holders” would get access to beer “within the stadium perimeter prior to kick-off and after the final whistle.”

Inside stadiums, only Budweiser’s zero-alcohol beer and soft-drinks would be available, the spokesperson added.

Alcohol is a sensitive topic at stadiums around the world. In England, most Premier League clubs allow beer sales inside stadiums but fans cannot drink in sight of the pitch.

While alcohol is not banned in Qatar as it is in neighboring Saudi Arabia, it is only sold in about 35 international hotels and restaurants. Foreign residents can buy alcohol in government stores. Drinking in public is illegal.