Qatar has banned the sale of beer at the eight stadiums where the FIFA World Cup 2022 matches will be held, the New York Times reported. The sudden decision by Qatar officials comes after months of tension between them and FIFA, football's global governing body, and just two days before the mega football tournament.
Initially, FIFA-sponsor Budweiser was the only beer permitted to be sold at the Qatar World Cup official venues. Budweiser has been the exclusive World Cup brand since 1986 and parent company AB InBev renewed its deal through 2022 with FIFA in a 2011 signing after Qatar was confirmed as host.
In September, organisers of the World Cup in Qatar had finalised a policy to serve beer with alcohol to football fans at stadiums and fan zones in the Muslim-majority country.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 will kick off in Qatar on Sunday, November 20 with an opening ceremony and match. The hosts will face off against Ecuador in the inaugural match of the highly-anticipated football championship.
The biggest tournament in football is expected to attract more than one million visitors, including fans from 31 other nations, to Qatar.
Alcohol is more available in Qatar than some Middle East states though it is served only in hotel restaurants and bars that have licences. It is illegal to consume it elsewhere.
Qatar has tested its alcohol policies at games in football including the 2019 Club World Cup that featured Europe's then-champion Liverpool, South American champion Flamengo and Mexican club Monterrey.
(With inputs from AP)