With the FIFA World Cup being scheduled for Brazil in 2014 it meant the country was asked to overturn it’s law on the ban of beer sales at its 12 host stadiums. There’s been a bitter battle brewing between Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and Frenchman Jerome Valcke, the secretary general of FIFA. They made the headlines in early March when Rebelo said Valcke wasn’t welcome in Brazil anymore after criticising the nation’s preparations for the tournament.
However, it looks like Brazil is backing down now since a vote by a special committee on March 6 resulted in a 15-9 result to allow beer to be sold at the stadiums during the event. FIFA desperately wants to sell the beverage since it will make millions of dollars from Budweiser, which is the official beer of the World Cup. If the law is changed, beer will also be on sale at the Confederations Cup in 2013, which is basically a trial run for the World Cup.
The final decision on the matter will take place in the Brazilian legislature and President Dilma Rousseff will have to approve it. Beer and alcohol sales were banned in Brazil in 2003 because of uncontrolled violence at many soccer games. But even without stadium drinking there has been at least 42 soccer-related deaths in the country over that time, which is the most in the world. Many citizens feel the death toll would be a lot higher if alcohol was added to the equation.
They also feel it’s FIFA’s problem since they knew drinking was outlawed at soccer games and still awarded the nation the World Cup. They insist public safety should come before FIFA profits. Valcke was called a bigmouth, bum, and colonialist by Marco Aurelio Garcia, who is President Rousseff’s special advisor on international affairs and Valcke apologised after Brazil said it wouldn’t deal with him anymore.
FIFA is in a bit of a jam since it promised Anheuser-Busch that it would be the official beer sponsor again, which it has been since 1986. In fact, FIFA said the company will sponsor beer sales at least up until the 2022 World Cup, mainly because soccer’s world governing body makes tens of millions of dollars due to the partnership. Basically the huge brewery has a monopoly on the event and the only beer available at the 2010 World cup in South Africa was Budweiser.
Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, said he hopes to meet with Rousseff to sort the mess out. It won’t be the first time he’s had to intervene in Valcke’s business affairs with FIFA. Valcke engaged in shady dealings back in 2006 when he stiffed MasterCard as a sponsor and made a deal with Visa instead. FIFA was rightly fined a total of $60 million for that escapade by a New York court. In addition, Valcke also wrote an email to a former vice president of FIFA and stated that the nation of Qatar had “bought” the rights to the 2022 World Cup.
However, even of FIFA does get its way and Brazil allows them to sell beer, the soccer organization is going to have to go through the same thing again in 2018 when the World Cup will be held in Russia, and in 2022 in Qatar, since both of those nations also have beer bans in place. But as far as FIFA’s concerned, cold beer equals cold cash, no matter what laws are in place.