In the world of legs and ball – it is perhaps drinks which add to this euphoria. Interestingly, that’s not the case at this year’s FIFA World Cup being currently held in Qatar. In a somewhat not-so-interesting twist and turn of events, the governing body of FIFA finally cleared the air on the consumption of alcohol, stating that there has been no impact on the sale of Bud Zero (the non-alcoholic beverage) which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums. “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. Host country’s authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans,” FIFA said in an official communique.
While the tournament organisers appreciated AB InBev’s – the parent company of beer brand Budweiser – understanding and continued support, what it means is that FIFA may no longer receive the entire deal amount which is believed to be worth around $112 million. Brand experts call it a moment of crisis for the beer brand. “This is such a punch at the last moment. However, the fact that an Islamic country would allow the consumption of alcohol at a mass gathering is very difficult to believe. And no exceptions were made in this case as well,” Harish Bijoor, founder of brand consultancy Harish Bijoor Consults, told BrandWagon Online.
Interestingly, Budweiser is also a sponsor for the 2026 World Cup for which the deal is valued at about $170 million. Industry experts opine that all is not lost, and the company still has mediums such as television and digital to advertise and cash in on the football fever. The brand will definitely lose on the in-stadia experience which is all about driving sampling. “The whole thing stinks. Clearly, someone somewhere slipped up,” Meenakshi Menon, communications specialist and founder, Spatial Access, stated.
As FIFA has slipped up on its commitment, AB InBev is believed to be seeking relief when it comes to paying the sponsorship amount to FIFA. Meanwhile, Budweiser has announced that the alcohol it could not sell in the stadiums in Qatar will go to the winning country.
Being one of the oldest sponsors, Budweiser has been part of FIFA since 1986. For industry analysts, this last-moment shock also reflects upon the corruption inside the governing body. “It was given that an Islamic nation will never allow the consumption of alcohol at a mass gathering, so for FIFA to make such promises to one of its oldest sponsors was strange. FIFA in this case pulled a fast one,” said a senior media analyst on the condition of anonymity.
It is believed that around $200 billion has been spent to hold this year’s football World Cup. On November 19, Gianni Infantino, president, FIFA, at a press conference said that the governing body will earn anywhere between $600-700 million from this year’s World Cup. He added that this year, from just media rights, FIFA is expected to earn about $200 million compared to the 2018 tourney which was held in Russia, while sponsorship money rose another $200 million. Finally, it is expected to earn another $200-300 million from tickets and hospitality.