The organizers of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar have reportedly tried to hide beer tents already set up around football stadiums at the direct request of the Qatari royal family.
The New York Times reported that, as the major global event begins just days before launch, workers are scrambling to keep the Budweiser-branded tents out of sight of local onlookers.
Part of the agreement between FIFA and the local organizers in Qatar is the sale of alcohol during the event and the provision of advertising space for the American beer brand Budweiser.
However, Qatari officials have asked that the consumption and sale of alcohol during the World Cup “respect” local customs.
A FIFA World Cup trophy memorial is seen at the entrance of Al Thumama Stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, November 14, 2022 in Doha, Qatar
Although alcohol is legal in Qatar, it is generally only sold in designated hotel bars, many of which are frequented by foreign visitors.
Concerns about offending people in the highly conservative and religious Muslim nation are believed to be behind the last-minute decision.
Workers have been seen pushing beer franchises to alternative venues at the eight stadiums that will host games before the first game kicks off this weekend.
The decision will come as a blow to major World Cup sponsor Budweiser, which reportedly pays FIFA around £64m every four years for the rights to its beer franchises.
In a statement to The New York Times, Budweiser said it was only made aware of the changes Saturday and is “working with FIFA to move concession operations to designated locations.”
The move is the latest controversy surrounding the upcoming event, where a World Cup ambassador from Qatar recently said homosexuality was “harmful to the spirit”.
Being gay is illegal in the deeply religious country and can lead to prison terms.
Earlier today, the United States Men’s National Team announced that they had redesigned their crest with the rainbow flag to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.
Budweiser is a major sponsor of the World Cup and pays FIFA around £64m every four years for the exclusive rights to sell beer
The US National Team crest switched from the usual red to rainbow colors this week in support of the LGBTQ+ community
Sir Rod Stewart recently revealed he turned down $1 million to perform in Qatar because of its poor human rights record
And earlier this month, singer Sir Rod Stewart told The Sunday Times he turned down a $1 million offer to perform in Qatar because of his human rights record.
“I turned it down. It is not right to walk And the Iranians should also be keen to supply weapons,” he said, referring to drones the country supplies to Russia, which has been banned from the tournament.
The first match of the 2022 World Cup will take place on Sunday 20 November at the Al Bayt Stadium, with the hosts Ecuador taking on Ecuador.