In a shocking turn of events, 2022 FIFA World Cup host country Qatar has banned the sale of beer at stadiums in a decision made on Friday, just two days before the opening ceremony on November 20. This is a sudden U-turn from the original agreement with FIFA, which allowed the Middle Eastern nation to secure hosting rights in the first place.

It must be pointed out that this is a major cause of concern not just for fans who are expecting to attend a month-long boozy party while supporting their national team squads. The effects go far deeper than the inconvenience caused to spectators because Budweiser happens to be a major sponsor of the tournament.

Earlier this week, Budweiser already confirmed that they have been asked to move their beer selling outlets which have been set up outside eight of the World Cup stadiums. However, instead of simply moving them to less prominent locations, Qatar has now banned them from selling beer outside the said venues.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Qatar had agreed to allow selling of alcohol at the World Cup venues during the time that they had been bidding for the hosting rights. FIFA would have made this a requirement considering the $75 million deal that they have with Budweiser.

Now, Qatar has literally spat in the face of FIFA and their major sponsor.

Non-alcoholic beer will still be sold, which proves to be of little consolation to fans. Likewise, FIFA announced that champagne, wine, whiskey and other alcohol will still be served to guests who bought access to the luxury hospitality areas of the arenas. This is of course something that made fans even more angry due to the elitist rule. Beers were expected to be expensive enough during the event, and now that it has been banned under the premise of strict Muslim laws, it brings to question why VIPs are able to consume alcohol at the stadiums.

Ordinary fans will be able to purchase and consume alcohol at the designated FIFA Fan Festival, where live music and other activities have been prepared for fans to enjoy. Alternatively, they can also purchase and drink alcohol for considerably more money at hotel bars.

"Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from stadium perimeters," FIFA said in a statement.

Ab InBev, the parent company of Budweiser, has been forced to accept the new mandate, but it remains to be seen how the situation will be settled with FIFA.

The tournament is about to kick off, and there are concerns about whether or not millions of foreign fans will stay within the confines of the strict laws in Qatar. Islamic laws criminalise public drunkenness, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality. Fans have been warned to stay out of trouble to keep themselves out of potentially dangerous situations.

Meanwhile, locals have applauded the decision, with many taking to social media to reply to fans who are not happy about the ban.

World Cup organisers have banned beer sales around stadiums
World Cup organisers have banned beer sales around stadiums AFP News