FIFA beer battle about cash, not game

January 19th, 2012
09:15 PM GMT

London (CNN) – FIFA isn’t doing this for the fans, and I don’t think it’s doing it for football either.

The governing body’s “arrogant” (their word) insistence that alcohol should be sold in Brazil’s world cup stadiums has more to do with cold cash than cold beer.

FIFA receives tens of millions of dollars from Anheuser-Busch InBev – the giant brewing company which makes Budweiser – in World Cup sponsorship.

In South Africa in 2010, Budweiser was the only beer for sale in World Cup stadiums. Not surprising then that it outsold every other beverage on offer – sports drinks, soft drinks and bottled water combined.

Brazil is a key market for AB InBev – a valuable piece of fertile turf while business stagnates in Europe. Budweiser was launched there just last year, as a premium brand. No doubt that’s part of a strategy which includes the World Cup.

That’s the deal – and why shouldn’t the brewing giant get what it pays for?

Perhaps because it must have known about the law before it signed up to sponsor the World Cup.

But FIFA’s blunt dismissal of those laws suggests neither governing body nor brewer ever cared much.

The laws are there because of Brazilian football’s bloody record. One report in 2009 put Brazil at the top of the league for deaths as a result of violence in football – with 42 in a decade. Lawmakers are doing what they can to drop down that particular scoreboard.

People used to think it was ok for tobacco firms to sponsor sporting events. If FIFA really wants to support “fan culture”, as it says it does, it should be more careful about who it takes money from.


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