The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of global soccer, has told Brazilian officials that they must sell beer and other alcoholic drinks at all venues during the 2014 World Cup tournament.
However, beer has been prohibited at Brazilian football matches since 2003 in order to reduce violence between rival fans. The country’s health minister Alexandre Padilha has demanded Congress that the ban remain in place.
The general secretary of FIFA, Jerome Valcke, even insisted that the right to sell beer at football marches should be incorporated as “World Cup law.” He is currently in Brazil to urge lawmakers to rescind the ban.
Valcke told reporters in Rio de Janeiro: 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. The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.
Brazil, which wants to use the World Cup as a showcase for its robust economy and soaring wealth, is facing choice between health concerns and millions of dollars of revenue from alcohol sales.
The Congress is currently debating the issue.
Not surprisingly, one of FIFA’s biggest sponsors is U.S. beer behemoth, Budweiser.
According to reports, the ban doesn’t necessarily mean that soccer fans remain sober during matches. Many simply load up on alcohol prior to the matches, or, in some cases, smuggle liquor into the arenas.
Valcke also criticized some other aspects of Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup, including the slow pace of construction at some of the venues and the inadequate infrastructure the country has to deal with something as massive as the international soccer tournament.