As France and Argentina approach the finals of the World Cup it’s interesting to see how the world reacted to the last-minute beer ban at the games in Qatar.
Qatar, for those who don’t know, is an Islamic state where alcohol consumption is almost never allowed. While they didn’t say anything in the planning stages, it was assumed they would allow beer sales at the stadium while the tournament was happening, just like every other year FIFA has run a World Cup tournament. Unfortunately, they got around to letting everyone know that beer sales woudl NOT be allowed two days before the event.
Here’s a graphic of the sponsors from a few months ago:
(Note the little Budweiser logo in the middle.)
Here’s one from right before the finals:
(No bud logo at all)
And here’s one from 2018
Apparently, Budweiser was caught off guard, as the beer ban was only put into place a few days before the games began. Bud had stocked up enough beer to sell at the stadiums for the whole run of the competition but ended up not being able to sell any of it.
According to CNN, they will instead take all that beer and ship it to the country that wins the cup, hoping that it will be allowed to sell it there as part of some sort of victory celebration. Their new emergency last-minute slogan: “Bring Home The Bud!”
What gives us pause is that Bud is not just a beer seller, they’re a sponsor, just like they have been for 36 years. This means that Bud (or their parent company, InBev) gave FIFA a pile of cash ($75 million) with the expectation that they will be able to sell loads of beer at the events. Also, no other beer company will be allowed to sell beer there. If I were Bud, I’d be pretty ticked off at FIFA for letting this happen. We may well see a different beer sponsor for future events, as the sponsorship is up for renewal next year. What’s more remarkable is that FIFA let this happen. We may not see future World Cup events in countries that prohibit alcohol sales.
If I were Bud (or any other beer company vying for the contract), I would make certain that there is some fine print that says they get to sell beer at the event or FIFA has to give them their money back.
According to the New York Times, via Yahoo (FFS), Bud spent a heap of money just trucking in beer from other countries, as there are no breweries in Qatar. Then they had to also find cold storage for it and also bring in sales/pouring infrastructure, tents, banners, and all manner of other stuff. They even tried to sell a zero-alcohol version of Bud at the events, which went over like an… alcohol-free beer. (Would you drink beer if it had no alcohol? We wouldn’t.)
Fortunately, for Bud, most of the beer drinking during the World Cup happens in small bars and pubs all over the world and this will likely not have a big negative impact on their enormous bottom line.
It shines a light on the many international sports organizations that take in a lot of money from beer and alcohol sponsors. FIFA is huge, bigger than the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB and all of those are massive! All of those organizations take sponsorship monies from beer and alcohol companies. The same money often provides much-needed capital to smaller, local leagues and sports organizations all over the world (mostly). This is just a reminder of one more area of your life where beer has a hand (sometimes a big hand) in shaping the world around us.
Enjoy the finals and hoist one for your favorite team!