Most fans who are attending the World Cup in Qatar will not be able buy beer in the stadiums. However, corporate hospitality lounges may allow them to – but at a cost.
Fans will have the opportunity to enjoy premium alcoholic drinks and fine dining at luxury hospitality lounges, suites, and restaurants in eight of the stadiums that were built for the biggest football event. Tickets cost $3,000 (PS2,522) each.
A mixologist and premium spirits can be added to your PS4,000 purchase.
Clients of MATCH Hospitality, a long-standing FIFA partner, can enjoy wine, beer, and “street food on wheels” in a tented community near the stadium for a low entry price of $950 (PS799).
Jaime Byrom, MATCH executive chairman, stated to Associated Press (AP) that it was “exactly the type of experience people would expect in a fine dining establishment or a sports bar.”
It will be quite different from the regular tournament experience. The opening match between Ecuador and the host country is on Sunday. This is because Qatar made a decision two days prior to the tournament to reverse an earlier decision to allow beer sales inside the stadiums.
The country is a conservative Islamic nation. However, it was granted permission to drink alcohol at the tournament. At the 64-games, Bud Zero, which is alcohol-free, will no longer be sold in the stadium grounds.
It was a remarkable reversal and a possible breach of contract for Budweiser’s parent, AB InBev. This brand has been serving at the football World Cup for 36 year.
In a statement, the company stated that it was due to “circumstances beyond control”.
However, the luxury market will not be affected by the late U-turn. Each of the 250,000 tickets that MATCH Hospitality sold can still be served with alcohol, as promised.
People who purchased “Pavilion” tickets ($1,900 and PS1,597) are eligible to enjoy spirits along with wine or beer.
Fans will need to have purchased a Business class ticket for $3,050 (PS2,564) in order to add champagne and cocktails.
“Old world grandeur, glamour”
The Pearl Lounge is the ultimate luxury venue, featuring seats at the Lusail Stadium’s halfway line. This venue will be hosting the final match and nine others. Prices start at $4.950 (PS4,161), and include “mixologists”, Champagne selection, sommeliers and premium spirits.
MATCH’s sales pitch states that Pearl Lounge exudes glamour and old-world grandeur, much like the symbol it takes its name from.”
All of this has led to record sales for MATCH. MATCH is hosting the fourth World Cup. However, the Byrom family that runs the company has been working with FIFA since 1980s.
A spokesperson for Byrom said that the program was far more successful than they could have hoped for.
When MATCH was renewed in 2011 with FIFA, it was agreed that Qatar would be able to legally serve alcohol in discreetly controlled areas. This was the year that FIFA selected Qatar as its host.
MATCH reached an agreement with FIFA in 2011 for a $300m guarantee and a share of the profits to cover all its tournaments for eight consecutive years starting 2015-23.
This is more than twice what FIFA would earn from Budweiser sponsorship during the same period.
MATCH also caters to cultural sensibilities in the Middle East. For people who don’t drink alcohol, separate lounge areas were created.