The 2022 World Cup has officially kicked off with matches to start on Nov. 20. The event will be hosted by Qatar, a country that counts the majority of its population as Muslim.
A major sponsor of the World Cup could be left with a big decision days before the event with its key product now banned inside stadiums.
What Happened: The 2022 World Cup matches will be in eight stadiums that will not sell alcoholic beverages during the 2022 World Cup.
“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 Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA, the governing body of world soccer and the World Cup, said the new ruling would have no impact on the non-alcoholic beer brand Bud Zero, which will be available for sale inside the World Cup stadiums.
“The tournament organizers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA BUD is a leading sponsor of the 2022 World Cup and will now see its key product not available for sale or consumption during the global event that happens every four years.
“As partners of FIFA for over three decades, we look forward to our activations of FIFA World Cup campaigns around the world to celebrate football with our consumers,” an AB InBev spokesperson told Benzinga. “Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control.
Budweiser tweeted about the news on Friday with a potential dig at FIFA. The tweet seen below was later deleted.
Why It’s Important: Anheuser-Busch InBev paid an estimated $75 million for the current World Cup cycle and now sees its key product unavailable for sale at the event. This could lead to a strong backlash from the beverage giant and potential attempts to change the terms of the deal.
FIFA could face the risk of upsetting one of its major sponsors just days before the event begins, a move that could backfire for future events as well.
Many Middle Eastern countries ban the sale of alcoholic beverages as part of the Muslim faith. Qatar does not ban the outright sale of alcohol, instead choosing to have strict control over it with only sales allowed in hotels and restaurants.
FIFA has faced strong objections for selecting Qatar as the host country with concerns for migrant workers, the rights of LGBTQ+ visitors, bribery, corruption and the extreme heat, which pushed the tournament from its usual summer months to November.
The New York Times reported FIFA was able to push Brazil to allow the sale of beer inside stadiums when it hosted the World Cup.
Anheuser-Busch is now left with the decision of if paying $75 million is worth it for the media exposure and name branding at the stadium but not the sale of its key product.
The U.S. missed out on the 2018 tournament and will play in the 2022 World Cup, which could provide a boost to beer sales in the U.S. during the tournament.
BUD Price Action: Anheuser-Busch InBev shares are up 0.49% to $55.28 on Friday.
Photo: World Cup 2010 by Günther Simmermacher from Pixabay
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