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MarketWatch First Take: Budweiser shrugs off Qatar stadium beer ban, tweets new World Cup campaign

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World Cup beer sponsor Budweiser, which appeared to be caught unawares by Qatar’s abrupt ban on stadium beer sales Friday, teased a new campaign tied to the tournament on Saturday.

Following Qatar and FIFA’s abrupt reversal on stadium beer sales, Budweiser reportedly tweeted “Well, this is awkward …” on Friday, before deleting it.

The snarky tweet attracted plenty of attention amid the furor over the stadium beer ban. While World Cup stadium sales are a drop in the ocean in terms of Budweiser’s overall revenue, the last-minute ban is the latest flashpoint in a World Cup buildup fraught with controversy.

See Now:‘You can enjoy yourself with or without alcohol,’ says England star, after Qatar World Cup stadium beer ban

Apparently shrugging off the stadium ban, Budweiser tweeted a cryptic image of hundreds of crates of beer on Saturday morning. “New Day, New Tweet. Winning Country gets the Buds,” the company wrote, in the tweet. “Who will get them?”

Full details of the promotion have not been released, but a spokesperson for Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch InBev
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told MarketWatch that more will be revealed during the tournament.

“Where there is a celebration, there is always a Budweiser,” the spokesperson said, in an emailed statement. “In that spirit, Budweiser wants to bring this celebration from the FIFA World Cup stadiums to the winning country’s fans.”

See NowAs Qatar bans beer in stadiums, World Cup sponsor Budweiser touts promotional efforts in other countries

“We will host the ultimate championship celebration for the winning country. Because, for the winning fans, they’ve taken the world,” the spokesperson added. “More details will be shared when we get closer to the finals.” 

This is the first World Cup to take place in the Arab world. Budweiser’s nonalcoholic Bud Zero will still be available at Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums, and beer will be available in specially designated fan zones and licensed venues such as hotels.

Budweiser has been a World Cup partner since 1986 and has reportedly forked out $75 million for its latest sponsorship deal.

See also: ‘Well, this is awkward’: Qatar bans beer sales at World Cup stadiums, surprising sponsor Budweiser

During a press conference Saturday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino launched into a lengthy defense of the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar, and accused the West of “hypocrisy.”

Branding experts have warned that the controversial Qatar World Cup poses challenges for the big-name corporations involved in the event.

FIFA’s list of partners includes U.S. corporate titans Coca-Cola Co. 
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and Visa Inc.
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 who will both be involved in the Qatar event. McDonald’s Corp.
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 is also signed up as a World Cup sponsor.

See: Qatar World Cup controversy means sponsors are walking a tightrope

In May, Amnesty International, along with 23 other organizations, wrote an open letter to FIFA President Infantino urging a “remedy for labor abuses behind the 2022 World Cup.”

The death toll of construction workers in Qatar remains firmly in the spotlight, with Amnesty International describing thousands of migrant worker deaths since 2010. The deaths cited by Qatar are significantly less and the country’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which is overseeing the World Cup, described Amnesty’s letter as inaccurate.

“Over the past two decades, Qatar has initiated an overhaul of its labor system, with extensive action taken to benefit the millions of workers in our country,” said a Qatari government official, in a statement emailed to MarketWatch last week.

Related: In Qatar, is it legal to drink alcohol?

FIFA has set up grievance mechanisms with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. As of December 2021, workers are said to have received $22.6 million in repayment of recruitment fees, with an additional $5.7 million committed by contractors.

Fox Sports, which is owned by Fox Corporation
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 the sister company of Dow Jones parent News Corp. 
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 has broadcast rights to the Qatar World Cup.

The Margin: ‘You can enjoy yourself with or without alcohol,’ says England star, after Qatar World Cup stadium beer ban

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