FIFA facing staggering $70 million blow after World Cup beer ban

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (pictured left) speaking and (pictured right) Budweiser beer.
Budweiser has responded after FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Qatar announced there would be no beer sold in venues at the FIFA World Cup. (Images: Getty Images/Budweiser)

FIFA could be set for a massive payout after Qatar announced beer wouldn't be sold inside stadiums at the World Cup as supplier Budweiser deals with a whopping surplus of alcohol.

In a move that took travelling fans from around the world by surprise, the host nation backflipped on an agreement to sell beer inside stadiums just two days out from kick-off.

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The sale and consumption of alcohol is legal in Qatar but is strictly controlled, with drinks typically only available in hotel bars and restaurants at an inflated price.

However, fans visiting Qatar were under the impression FIFA had officially organised a deal for alcohol to be sold at stadiums.

But FIFA bowed to Qatar authorities and confirmed no alcohol would be served in the eight official venues.

It's a bitter blow for FIFA, who are now staring down the barrel of potential legal action from major sponsor Budweiser for breach of contract, with the American company having paid some $112m to win the sponsorship rights.

Budweiser currently holds a $112 million deal to sell beer at this FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

A cup of Budweiser Zero non-alcoholic beer
A fan with a Budweiser Zero non-alcoholic beer in the stands during the FIFA World Cup Group. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

The deal extends to $170 million for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

And according to The Sun, Budweiser will be looking to knock off a $71 million fee for the FIFA 2026 World Cup because of the Qatar drama.

Elaina Bailes, committee member of the London Solicitors Litigation Association, said the last-minute change of position was likely to lead to a dispute.

"Budweiser now has a costly logistical problem of what to do with distributed stock it can no longer sell, and there could be knock on effects for contracts in their supply chain," she said, adding it would also have lost brand visibility during matches.

A Budweiser beer stand in Doha.
A Budweiser beer stand in Doha. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Ed Weeks, head of commercial dispute resolution at British-based lawyers Cripps, said the big question was whether the FIFA-Budweiser contract anticipated the possibility of a sudden change.

"If they did, and they put in a clause putting the risk on Budweiser, then they're going to be very smug right now. If they didn't, then FIFA and its lawyers are going to have a really bad weekend," he said.

Budweiser respond to FIFA beer ban

Budweiser will now be left with a huge oversupply of beer that would have made its way to the nation.

And in a cheeky post, the beer company announced the huge oversupply could go to the winning nation.

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"Winning country gets the Buds," the tweet read, with a photo of the huge amount of supply in a warehouse.

After the announcement that no beer would be sold in FIFA stadiums, Budweiser's Twitter account tweeted: "Well, this is awkward..." without elaborating Friday. The tweet was later deleted.

In another bizarre moment, while alcohol is banned in most areas of Qatar, Budweiser were still able to hand out the Budweiser man-of-the-match trophy.

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The award went to two-goal hero Edder Valencia in the opening match, which saw Ecuador defeat host nation Qatar 2-0.

Friday's was not Qatar's first backtrack - but it was the most significant. Qatar also changed the date of the opening match only weeks before the World Cup began.

with Reuters

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