World Cup trophyAlcohol sponsorship of sporting events has become a contentious issue at the FIFA World Cup going on now in Qatar. Photo by Rhett Lewis on Unsplash.

Kinesiology prof offers expert commentary to podcast on alcohol sales at World Cup

When a podcast with one million listeners in 200 countries wanted to do a segment on the ban of beer sales at this year’s FIFA World Cup, they turned to UWindsor’s Sarah Gee.

Dr. Gee, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, recently spoke to Heritage Radio Network’s Meat and Three about the contentious role of alcohol sponsors in sports.

“Sponsors have a very key role,” Gee said. “When a country or a city bids to host one of these sports mega-events, the sponsors are very much considered.”

Gee said organizers normally “ensure the sponsors are seen and have their pride of place and get their money’s worth.”

This year’s World Cup is taking place in Qatar, an Islamic country that very strictly controls the sale and consumption of alcohol.

AB INBev, Budweiser beer’s parent company, paid US$75 million to be an official sponsor of the World Cup, expecting its brand of beer to flow as freely at this year’s event as in tournaments past. But two days before the event’s opening match, Qatari officials declared none of the eight stadiums hosting matches would serve alcohol.

While consuming alcohol is not illegal in Qatar, drinking in public or being drunk in a public space can result in fines or even imprisonment. As such. beer sales are permitted in the official FIFA fan zone areas where people can watch the games on giant screens.

“They are creating this special space for fans who are largely coming from non-Middle Eastern countries… to experience the event as they had hoped and not to be found disobeying these very restrictive laws.”

Listen to Gee’s interview on the Meat and Three episode entitled “Sporting an Appetite” here.

—Sarah Sacheli

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