Alcohol is a non-negotiable aspect of the World Cup and the right to sell it must be enshrined in a new law the Brazilian Congress is considering, the secretary general of FIFA has said.
Football’s governing body on Thursday pushed for the sale of alcohol at 12 venues of the 2014 World Cup finals in spite of a country-wide ban on the sale of alcohol in sports venues as part of a bid to stamp out violence amongst fans.
“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,” Jerome Valcke told reporters during an interview in Rio de Janeiro.
“The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law,” he added.
Valcke’s comments come just weeks after Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, curbed the sale of alcoholic drinks on its flagship development, the Pearl, in what is seen as a display of tension between Qatar’s Muslim culture and its largely expatriate population.
Food and beverage outlets told Arabian Business they had seen a 50 percent revenue slump in the wakes of the new ruling.
“I would say [the decline] is even more than 50 percent,” a spokesperson for Maze, the restaurant owned by the British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay said.
“It is not only Maze… all the restaurants have stopped serving. There are a lot of rumours, we are waiting in great anticipation that [the ban will be lifted].”
Analysts suggested it could be the start of a Gulf-wide clampdown on booze sales as governments look to pacify local fears. “Qatar is hardly the first Gulf state in which the local population has expressed its concerns over the sale of alcohol,” Guy Wilkinson, managing partner at Dubai-based hospitality consultancy, Viability, told Arabian Business on Jan 15.
“Following the Arab Spring, I expect Muslim parties to have more and more influence over the control of alcohol throughout the region,” he added.
The sale of alcohol is strictly monitored in five of the Gulf states with Saudi Arabia operating an outright ban on the sale and consumption of liquor.
The move to offer alcohol licenses to outlets and non-Muslims is largely a nod to the region’s expatriate workers, who vastly outnumber the local population. But the decision has been met with criticism from some citizens who oppose the sale of liquor in Muslim countries.
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