If there is one thing a soccer fan likes to have at the match, it’s a beer. And if there’s one thing that big-event organizers love to have, it's major corporate sponsorship.
The former is what led FIFA to inform the next two countries scheduled to hold the men’s World Cup to “drop restrictions on beer sales in stadiums,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate," FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke commented at a press conference in Brazil, the BBC reports.
Brazil doesn’t sell alcohol in its stadiums in a bid to curb fan violence, but a “a Brazilian lawmaker has proposed overturning the alcohol ban, not just for World Cup games but for soccer matches across the country,” the Times notes. No such movement has happened in Russia yet. “We’ll see,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly commented.
With beer sales slumping and Budweiser a top-tier World Cup sponsor, CNN.com adds that it's (of course) about the money, not the fans:
FIFA receives tens of millions of dollars from Anheuser-Busch InBev — the giant brewing company which makes Budweiser — in World Cup sponsorship.
In South Africa in 2010, Budweiser was the only beer for sale in World Cup stadiums. Not surprising then that it outsold every other beverage on offer - sports drinks, soft drinks and bottled water combined.
Brazil is a key market for AB InBev – a valuable piece of fertile turf while business stagnates in Europe. Budweiser was launched there just last year, as a premium brand. No doubt that’s part of a strategy which includes the World Cup.
It really does beg the question, then, why FIFA chose Qatar to host the 2022 Cup, the Times points out, as alcohol is banned nearly everywhere there.