With beer banned in stadiums, World Cup fans are looking for a sip of hope

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DOHA, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Football fans who have traveled thousands of miles to get a glimpse of the sport’s most prestigious event enjoyed their first sips of beer at the launch of a fan festival on Saturday, a rare place where they can drink alcohol at the World Cup.

In a last-minute U-turn, two days before the tournament’s opening match, international football governing body FIFA said on Friday that alcoholic beer would not be sold at World Cup stadiums in Qatar. .

Budweiser, a major sponsor of the World Cup, was to sell alcoholic beer exclusively within the ticketing perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each match during the month-long event.

Now, fans can only consume beer at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha. Alcoholic beverages remain available in the reception areas of the stadium.

A Mexican supporter in a sombrero, his country’s tricolor draped over his shoulders, balanced a cardboard cup holder containing four beers as he joined a group of his compatriots at Al Bidda Park in Doha, welcoming the FIFA Fan Festival.

“Not having alcohol is not good because the World Cup is the world’s party,” said Brazilian supporter Julio Cesar, wearing a felt hat in the colors of his country.

The 2022 World Cup is the first edition of the tournament to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.

Qatar has also faced criticism from some countries participating in the 32-nation tournament due to its record on the rights of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community.

For fans indifferent to Qatar’s dire human rights record, the absence of beer at World Cup venues proved a major disappointment.

“It’s hard to say what happened in Qatar, whether it’s the truth or not,” said Guilherme, 41, another Brazil fan.

“My only problem is banning alcohol.”

Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Shady Koura Editing by Christian Radnedge

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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