The 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar, stunned World Cup sponsor Budweiser and many attendees with its last-second ban of alcohol sales at stadiums during soccer’s quadrennial spectacle.
Budweiser labeled the situation awkward before executing a marketing pivot by promising the beer it had planned to sell during the tournament to the country that won the World Cup, which ended up, after a thriller against France on Sunday, being Argentina.
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“We will host the ultimate championship celebration for the winning country. Because, for the winning fans, they’ve taken the world,” an Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD,
The beer giant had previously alluded to its World Cup surplus in a tweet.
“We brought the BUDS,” tweeted Budweiser Argentina on Sunday, with footage of a huge crowd celebrating at the National Flag Memorial in Rosario, Argentina superstar Lionel Messi’s hometown. Budweiser said victory celebrations featuring the brand would take place Thursday in Buenos Aires as well as Rosario, 300 kilometers northwest of the Argentine capital, and Córdoba, in north-central Argentina.
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Qatar, a culturally conservative Muslim nation, announced it would not allow the sale of alcohol during the World Cup in November, aside from in a few luxury hospitality areas of the stadiums, reversing a decision earlier in the year that would have allowed wider alcohol sales.
Right after the alcohol ban was announced, Budweiser tweeted, “Well, this is awkward …” — a tweet that was later deleted.
See also: Why is 2022 Qatar World Cup so controversial? Here’s a list of issues overshadowing FIFA’s tournament.
Drinking alcohol is not illegal in the Persian Gulf nation, but the country has rules that severely limit its widespread use.
Qatar does not permit its people to drink alcohol in public or to be inebriated in public, and, according to a published tourism guide, “drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months.” Some bars and hotels are allowed to sell alcohol, but those establishments have obtained specific licenses to do so.
“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,” read a statement from FIFA.
Budweiser has been a World Cup sponsor since 1986 and reportedly paid $75 million for its 2022 deal, according to AdWeek. The company airs commercials featuring the sport’s top players, including Messi and Brazil star Neymar Jr., a Messi club mate with Paris Saint-Germain. All sponsored events at the tournament took place.
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Weston Blasi is a reporter. You can follow him on Twitter @WestonBlasi.
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