Uh oh! From FIFA, the organizing body of world soccer (emphasis ours):
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.
In plain English, the removal of these “sales points” from “perimeters” is a last-minute decision, made at the behest of Qatar’s strict, conservative government, to not sell beer at World Cup matches. It’s a decision that creates, to put it in business terms, an absolutely enormous cluster-F and S-show of the type rarely encountered when there’s so much money to be made for everyone. (See: Previous compromises with host countries Russia and Brazil.) Budweiser has already shipped an untold gallonage of its trademark median-quality lager to the middle of the freakin’ desert with plans to sell it in tents right outside the stadiums. The company’s public relations team conveyed to Fortune earlier this month that it has trained 6,000 workers in the country, where alcohol is typically not sold except on the premises of establishments patronized by foreigners, how to serve beer. The tents are already set up! And the tournament starts in two days. (It’s also an ominous sign in re: Qatar’s previous promises about subjects like press freedom and LGBTQ rights.)
As for the “FIFA Fan Festival,” is an open area set up on an enormous stretch of pavement in Doha, Qatar’s capital, where games will be broadcast on large screens. It’s not adjacent to any of the stadiums, and according to the Guardian there is one beer stand there that will be responsible for serving as many as 40,000 people. The only seating depicted in the press photos of the venue is a cluster of picnic tables near the area where food is sold. That would all get a big nein (foreign/soccer term) from me!
To be clear, the reference to English fans in the headline above is not a joke, or at least, it’s not only a joke: The Wall Street Journal actually brings up the English, and only the English, in the section of its writeup about potential fallout from the beer ban:
The idea of not having a beer in the stands will already be familiar to plenty of soccer fans, namely those from England, where the consumption of alcohol is prohibited “in view of the pitch,” according to a government edict. But thirsty supporters tend to drink in pubs near the stadiums until minutes before kickoff, and then sneak in another pint or two at halftime, since drinking is permitted on the stadium concourses. At this World Cup, not even those measures are on the table.
Americans who are currently thinking what’s the big deal, I’ve been to a tailgate/house party where a lot of beers were taken down, how special can the English be, really are encouraged to read Among the Thugs, an account of socializing and traveling with hardcore Manchester United supporters in the 1980s by journalist Bill Buford. We are talking Hunter S. Thompson levels of consumption, en masse, sustained for days at a time. Remarkable stuff.
On the other hand, the type of fans Buford wrote about are the fans whose passports are confiscated by the British government before major matches abroad in order to prevent violence. So there will probably not be a coup against the Qatari regime this weekend perpetrated by men named Bread. Probably.