FOOTBALL Sponsor of the World Cup since 1986, the beer of the Anheuser-Busch InBev group will not be distributed near the World Cup stadiums in Qatar
Budweiser is moving away from the World Cup stadiums — Antonio Lacerda/EFE/SIPA
- The twist was just announced this Friday by the FIFA: Fans will have to settle for buying beers in Doha fan zones.
- Budweiser, historic World Cup sponsor, will only be able to sell its 'Bud Zero' in stadiums.
- An unprecedented snub for the brewer, who is used to imposing itself despite the laws of the host countries.
From our envoy; special to Doha,
The perfect publicity ambush took place twelve years ago. It’’s; Johannesburg, in a 2010 World Cup stadium, where a Netherlands-Denmark was being played out. 36 young women dressed in Danish colors entered the enclosure before removing their clothes to reveal a short, orange skirt, identified by FIFA as belonging to a supporter pack sold by the beer brand Bavaria.
Problem, the giant Budweiser (brand of the Anheuser-Busch InBev group) is the only official brewer of the World Cup. For fear of being tapped on the fingers by his partner, the officials therefore exfiltrate the 36 agitators from the stadium. Bad calculation: by Streisand effect and according to Hall & Partners, Bavaria will have generated 371% more buzz than Bud in the entire competition. Sponsor FIFA cringes but the long-standing relationship between the two parties – since 1986 – survives the bad joke.
Doha takes Bud to a grave; opposite
Twelve years later looms a far more “awkward” couple's feud, to quote a tweet from the swinging Budweiser account. Friday afternoon (then deleted). For good reason, the aggrieved brand has just learned that the organizers of the World Cup in Qatar had reversed their decision to sell beer to supporters around the stadiums, all at the expense of the beer. 48 hours of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador. A source close to the organization refers to an order “from above” the removal, at the start of the week, of the Bud tents from the supporters' entrance. These were considered too visible. Red and white, ça slap, ça slap.
FIFA may thank “AB InBev for their understanding” in its press release, it puts itself at odds with a sponsor who is paying $75 million to be a sponsor of the 2022 World Cup. decision “outside (its) control”, before diverting attention to external markets. “As a partner of FIFA for more than three decades, said a representative from AB InBev, we are looking forward to the launch of our campaigns (from CDM 2022) around the world in order to celebrating football with our customers.”
“Alcoholic beverages are part of the CDM, so we will have them”
It is still difficult to to believe that a group usually so intransigent about their condition as suppliers of booze to FIFA would just let it go and say that “ah, damn, that’s really bad news, but so many worse, no hard feelings friends”. Especially since AB InBev, which feared for its image when the FIFA scandal broke in 2014, had remained at home. on board the now piloted ship by Infantino. Vessel in which she won; all its battles against the host countries, leaving it to the FIFA to do all the dirty work to change local laws.
From Brazil, she had obtained the suspension of the ban on alcohol consumption in stadiums in force since 2003, at 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup. blockquote>“Alcoholic beverages are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them, said Sepp Blatter’s former right-hand man. Excuse me if I sound a little arrogant, but this is something we won’t negotiate.”
From Vladimir Putin”s Russia, not the easiest country to go to. to maneuver, Budweiser received permission to promote its beer between 2014 and 2018, while it had been strictly regulated since 2012 as part of an extensive campaign against alcoholism.
The “Bud Zero” still in the game
The victories were as much due to the support of FIFA as to the economic interests of the host countries, which did not necessarily view the fallout linked to official sponsors. An insufficient weapon in the face of the cultural weight of Qatar and the demands of the Al-Thani family, a priori determined to enjoy his World Cup by ignoring the rules of the Old World. As for the unwavering support of the highest authority in football, it seems to have tipped over. to Doha, where Gianni Infantino has taken up residence.
FIFA has justified the last minute change by a will to “ensure that stadiums and their surroundings will provide an enjoyable, respectable and enjoyable experience for everyone; all fans, while confirming that the sale of “Bud Zero” (without alcohol) would not be affected by this decision. It further clarifies that the sale of beer will be possible in the FIFA Fan festival area.
Not a word, however, about the dubious timing of the announcement, while Qatar has had more time than anyone else to prepare for its World Cup (2010-2022). He had been confirmed beginning of September that beer stands would open around the stadiums at from three hours and until’` 30 minutes before the start of the matches. They were then due to reopen for an hour after the final whistle.
Fans split on beer issue
Qatar had even experimented with a fan zone during the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, where the supporters were allowed to consume alcoholic beverages on a site located in the suburbs of Doha. An experience deemed conclusive by the fans. That year, the Secretary General of the Comité supreme organization of the World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi, had declared; that “alcohol is not part of (the) culture, but hospitality yes”.
It would seem that things have evolved a bit, although surprisingly not all Qataris are in favor of this flip-flop. “The sale should be allowed because a lot of people come from all over the world and FIFA used to do that before,” said one. Conversely, Marcos, a Brazilian supporter in the heart of Souk Waqif – and unofficial Thiago Silva lookalike – doesn’t seem more disturbed; that çhas by the news.
“I'm not shocked; by this decision. It wouldn't occur to me. the spirit of imposing my culture in another country. Here, alcohol is forbidden, it’s like ça. So I won't be drinking around the stadiums unlike; what we do in Brazil. And then there are the hotels.”
And… the stadiums, at condition of being rich. It’s probably there. that lies the greatest absurdity; of this half-turn. VIP areas in stadiums always offer packages including “beer, champagne, wine and spirits” to from $950 and up to over $30,000. The icing on the cake? A bar also exists in the main media centre. While for once, alcohol at work, it’s rather at home that çit does not pass.