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Qatar is set to ban all beer sales at and around its World Cup stadiums, in a dramatic U-turn just two days before the massive soccer tournament begins, according to multiple reports citing people with knowledge of the matter.
The conservative, gas-rich Muslim nation does not fully ban alcohol for visitors, but its sale and consumption is strictly controlled.
The reported decision, which is expected to be announce by Qatari authorities on Friday, throws the tournament’s $75 billion sponsorship by major beermaker Budweiser into question and is set to anger many organizers and attending fans already frustrated over restrictions.
FIFA’s pick for Qatar, a tiny state in the Gulf with a population of 3 million people and a limited soccer history, was controversial from the outset when the selection was made in 2010.