World Cup chiefs on Friday banned beer sales around stadiums in a stunning U-turn just two days before kickoff as Cristiano Ronaldo prepared to jet in to Qatar.
Alcohol is largely prohibited in the Islamic nation but the organisers sparked anger from fans with their dramatic decision.
Football’s world governing body FIFA said beer would not be sold to fans around any of the eight World Cup stadiums following discussions with the hosts.
“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,” FIFA said in a statement.
Dozens of Budweiser beer tents had already been set up at grounds ahead of the first game on Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador.
The host nation has predicted that more than one million fans will visit the country for the 29-day tournament and FIFA has had a longstanding sponsorship deal with Budweiser, which is owned by drinks giant AB InBev.
Beer will remain available in VIP suites in stadiums, in some fan zones and in some hotel and restaurant bars.
The Football Supporters’ Association, which represents fans from England and Wales, criticised the move, saying it was symptomatic of a “total lack of communication” with supporters from the organisers.
“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,” it said in a statement.