This year's World Cup host Qatar has reportedly requested for Budweiser to relocate all its beer tents outside the FIFA World Cup stadiums.According to the New York Times, the highest levels of the Qatari state have delivered a message that all related beer tents must be relocated outside the stadiums and there would be no discussion about it. Qatar is a predominantly Muslim country with limited availability to alcohol.
This comes as the royal family appears to be concerned that the prominent presence of alcohol brands at stadiums would upset the local population, along with worries around potential security problem would occur, said the report.However, the beer brand said it was informed of the new plan on 12 November, eight days before the official tournament starts. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to FIFA for a statement.
Over the past few days, the Qatari organisers have been busy relocating Budweiser beer stalls at eight stadiums amidst reports emerged around the sudden announcement from the country’s royal family, a check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw on Twitter.
While visitors are only able to purchase alcohol at bars inside designated hotels, FIFA and Qatari rulers had found it difficult to come up with a plan for the World Cup to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at the stadiums. As one of FIFA's sponsors, Budweiser has the privilege to sell beer at the stadiums at this year's tournament. Budweiser is also one of FIFA’s highest profile regional sponsors. However, the brand is now left in a tricky position to sell its products and gain exposure. According to media reports, Budweiser forks out about US$75 million to partner with the World Cup every four years. According to The New York Times, the brand has also had to face other issues with FIFA this year such as supplies and point of sales.
In September this year, Budweiser also launched a global campaign titled “The world is yours to take”. In partnership with international football icons Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., and Raheem Sterling, Budweiser launched its FIFA World Cup campaign in more than 70 countries, the most in the brand’s 146-year history. The campaign is anchored by a cinematic film featuring the athletes and a diverse group of fans making their way through the player’s tunnel with conviction toward the FIFA World Cup pitch. The spot cleverly uses the tunnel as a metaphor to connect fans to the emotion and anticipation the players feel before the match, inspiring them to take the next step in their journey towards pursuing their dreams.
“As sponsor of the FIFA World Cup for more than 30 years, we wanted to capture the infectious global energy of football fans everywhere to encourage people to find the conviction to go for greatness, no matter what the journey to get there might look like,” said Todd Allen, global vice president of marketing, Budweiser. “Determination to overcome challenges in the name of achieving greatness, like we’ve seen countless times from Messi, Neymar Jr., and Sterling, is an inspiration to us and to fans around the world. We hope our new campaign reminds fans that no matter what stands in your way, the world is yours to take.”
Separately, this year's World Cup has already triggered a lot of controversies before kick offs. Most recently, a media officer for the Qatar FIFA World Cup organising committee had to step in to halt an interview between World Cup ambassador and former footballer Khalid Salman and German broadcaster ZDF as the ambassador described homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.
Salman was a Qatari football player in the 1980s and 1990s. The ambassador called homosexuality “haram” meaning forbidden by the Islamic law and revealed that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. He added that tourists will be accepted in Qatar, but must abide by the rules of the country. He added that he was concerned about children learning “something that is not good.”
Former football star David Beckham was also caught amidst the controversy, and faced harsh criticism by human rights campaigners for praising Qatar as "perfection" in its tourism videos. Beckham appeared in a series of videos on Qatar Tourism’s website where he is seen visiting desert camps and trying local food – essentially all the things you’d expect a tourism video to contain. Unfortunately, his delivery on the line “This is perfection for me” has railed up many human rights activists.
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