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Jake Lessick Jake Lessick

Big Alcohol Calls the Shots at the World Cup

With Budweiser sponsoring the World Cup, soccer's governing body FIFA has insisted on reversing a decade-old on ban on alcohol in Brazil's soccer stadia. Trouble ahead?

4 Substance

Alcohol Brazil world cup

Trouble ahead? Photo via Shutterstock.

Ideally, the World Cup will be remembered for impassioned goal celebrations and dramatic storybook endings. But the one-month event kicks off today, and things are already getting a little messy off the field. Soccer’s international governing body—FIFA—has pressured the Brazilian government into lifting its 11-year ban on alcoholic beverages in soccer stadia. The ban was originally put in place in 2003 because of the country’s alarming number of deaths at soccer matches, mainly caused by alcohol-fueled violence.

But now Brazilian health professionals claim the alcohol industry is “running the show” at the 2014 World Cup, thanks to FIFA’s insistence on allowing booze at the stadiums and getting Budweiser on board as a sponsor. According to a report by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the legendary tournament “will be as much a festival of alcohol as it is of football.”

Allegedly, FIFA has had their eye on lifting Brazil’s soccer booze ban for some time now. “Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them,” FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke told the BBC in 2012. “Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate.”

Some claim that the “non-profit” organization is exploiting the country for profits from sponsorship by Budweiser, since FIFA stipulates that Brazil must waive tax on any profits made by their commercial partners. It’s estimated that Budweiser’s tax exemption could cause Brazil to lose up to $525 million dollars in revenue.

Late night host John Oliver weighed in on his show earlier this week: “The amazing thing is here FIFA won. They successfully pressured Brazil into passing a so-called Budweiser bill, allowing beer sales in soccer stadiums,” he said. ”And at this point you can either be horrified by that or relieved that FIFA was not also sponsored by cocaine and chainsaws.”