Budweiser Renews with FIFA Despite Stadium Beer Ban

The ban at last year's World Cup blindsided the brewer.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the FIFA World Cup closing press conference, Doha, Qatar, Dec. 16, 2022.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the FIFA World Cup closing press conference, Doha, Qatar, Dec. 16, 2022.
AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File

GENEVA (AP) β€” Budweiser will still be the official World Cup beer through the 2026 tournament in the United States, after brewer AB InBev renewed with FIFA on Thursday despite a troubled time with men's 2022 World Cup host Qatar.

Two days before the tournament began in Qatar, World Cup organizers withdrew a longstanding promise to let fans at stadiums buy beer with alcohol.

The move blindsided the brewer whose Budweiser brand has been the World Cup beer since the 1986 tournament.

FIFA seemed unable to protect AB InBev under pressure from Qatar in a dispute which seemed a potential breach of contract issue for soccer's world body. The conservative Muslim nation signed up to honor FIFA's commercial partners when it started bidding to be host in 2009.

Though sales of Budweiser dropped in stadiums, the global publicity over the dispute arguably boosted the brewer and left little doubt which brand was tied to the World Cup.

A renewal for the 2026 World Cup seemed a done deal even during the dispute in Doha. FIFA president Gianni Infantino said then that relations with AB InBev were good and handshakes had been exchanged before arriving in Qatar.

There was no mention of past problems Thursday in a FIFA statement confirming AB InBev would sponsor the Women's World Cup that kicks off next month in Australia and New Zealand, and the men's 2026 tournament which will be co-hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico and will increase to 104 games from 64.

"FIFA World Cup tournaments are the most popular sporting events in the world" AB InBev chief marketing officer Marcel Marcondes said. "We are deeply connected to the fans and to football all over the world, which is why we're excited about extending the relationship with FIFA."

The value of the renewal was not stated. The sponsorship was reported to be about $75 million for the previous World Cup.

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