FIFA, the sport’s troubled international governing body, said in a tweet that the decision had been made “following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA.”
It is a remarkable, 11th-hour policy change for the superrich Gulf kingdom, which has had 12 years to organize the world’s second largest sporting event, after the Olympics.
The event is already mired in controversy over Qatar’s human rights record, its oppression of the LGBT+ community and its poor treatment of migrant workers, who built the tournament venues. And this highlights another flashpoint: between this notoriously boozy sport and the conservative, Muslim country hosting it.
It also presents a major headache for sponsor, Budweiser, which has a $75 million advertising deal with FIFA.
FIFA’s statement thanked AB InBev, Budweiser’s parent company, for its “understanding and continuous support” to “cater for everyone” during the World Cup.
On Friday, after reports that Qatar’s alcohol ban was imminent, Budweiser tweeted: “Well, this is awkward…”
NBC News’ has reached out by phone and email to Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is organizing the event, for comment.
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