The 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar, stunned World Cup sponsor Budweiser with its last-second ban of alcohol sales at stadiums during soccer’s big, quadrennial spectacle.
Budweiser now says it will take some of the beer it originally planned to sell during the tournament and give it to the country whose team lifts the World Cup on Dec. 18.
“We will host the ultimate championship celebration for the winning country. Because, for the winning fans, they’ve taken the world. More details will be shared when we get closer to the finals,” an Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD, +0.47% spokesperson reportedly told CNN.
The beer giant had previously alluded to its World Cup surplus in a tweet.
Qatar, a culturally conservative Muslim nation, announced it would not allow the sale of alcohol during the World Cup last week, aside from in a few luxury hospitality areas of the stadiums, reversing a decision earlier in the year that would have allowed wider alcohol sales.
Right after the alcohol ban was announced, Budweiser tweeted, “Well, this is awkward …” — a tweet that was later deleted.
Drinking alcohol is not illegal in the Persian Gulf nation, but the country has rules that severely limit its widespread use.
Qatar does not permit its people to drink alcohol in public or to be inebriated in public, and “drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months.” Some bars and hotels are allowed to sell alcohol, but those establishments have obtained specific licenses to do so.
“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,” read a statement from FIFA.
Budweiser has been a World Cup sponsor since 1986 and reportedly paid $75 million for its World Cup deal, according to AdWeek. The company airs commercials featuring the sport’s top players, including Lionel Messi of Argentina and Neymar Jr. of Brazil. All sponsored events at the tournament are still said to be taking place.