Official England fan group shares new concerns after beer is banned from World Cup stadiums
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In a completely expected turn of events, news that alcohol will not be served in World Cup stadiums in Qatar has not gone down well with England fans.
FIFA made the shock announcement today (18 November), just two days before the international tournament is set to kick off.
Originally FIFA, who have a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with Budweiser, had said that alcohol would be served in 'select areas' of stadiums, but a last-minute meeting with Qatari officials changed everything.
Of course, those watching the World Cup from home will be able to enjoy a cold beer while they watch England battle it out over the next few weeks, but those who have flown into Qatar especially for the event won't be able to access booze as easily.
After FIFA confirmed the news this afternoon, the Football Supporters' Association, who represent more than 500,000 football fans across England and Wales, issued a statement calling out the last-minute change of heart.
It read: "Some fans like a beer at the match, and some don’t, but the real issue is the last minute u-turn which speaks to a wider problem – the total lack of communication and clarity from the organising committee towards supporters.
"If they can change their minds on this at a moment’s notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues."
Qatar's strict policies and values had been a point of concern for football fans thinking of making the trip over for the World Cup.
For example, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years, along with a fine, but 2022 World Cup CEO Nasser Al Khater has insisted that public displays of affection from LGBTQ+ supporters would be tolerated during the tournament.
Budweiser, who had exclusive rights to sell beer at the World Cup, seemed just as blindsided by today's news.
In a now-deleted tweet, the beer giant commented: "Well, this is awkward."
FIFA's statement about the eleventh-hour decision read: "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.
"There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar's World Cup stadiums.
"Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.
"The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev's understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."
The World Cup starts this Sunday, 20 November at Al Bayt Stadium, when Qatar will take on Ecuador in Group A.
It was originally due to start with a Senegal vs Netherlands match a the Al Thumama Stadium, but the hosts had the tournament moved forward to allow Qatar to play first.
England will play their first match on Monday, 21 November at 1pm against Iran, and Wales will play the USA later that day at 7pm.
England and Wales will then go head-to-head on Tuesday, 29 November at 7pm.