But A-B, which paid $7 million to become the official beer sponsor of the World Cup soccer games, may not be off the hook yet.
Although World Cup USA Chairman-CEO Alan I. Rothenberg last week abruptly ended his call for a ban on alcohol sales ongame days, at least two World Cup venues-Chicago and Dallas-last week were continuing to look at some prohibition on beer sales.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, in a letter to Mr. Rothenberg, said beer sales would be banned at Soldier Field, home of opening ceremonies and the Chicago games. The ban had been recommended earlier by the city police.
The Dallas City Council was considering a proposal to ban sales not only at the Cotton Bowl but in the park around it.
The brouhaha got started in February, when Mr. Rothenberg sent a letter to mayors of the nine World Cup host cities, suggesting that a ban on liquor sales near the game sites would help security. He noted that the World Cup committee, which can make the decision on beer sales at most of the venues, was considering a ban.
"We urge you to consider measures as strong as we are-including outright banning of sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages in the stadium-in and around your community before the games," he wrote.
By cutting off sales, "the chances that we could have an absolutely incident-free event increase dramatically," said the letter, referring to the hooliganism that has erupted at some European soccer matches.
Though Orlando and Pasadena, Calif., responded by angrily reject ing the call, and no city with the possible excep tion of Chicago had formally acted to ban even stadium sales as of last week, Anheuser-Busch reacted quickly.
"Mr. Rothenberg's proposition is not a solution, but rather an empty symbolic gesture that doesn't address the real causes of misbehavior by sports fans," the company said in a March 11 statement that suggested using good stadium management and security to handle such problems.
A-B followed with a letter last week from Michael J. Roarty, exec VP-corporate marketing and communications, that called the request "an insult."
On March 15, Mr. Rothenberg backtracked. "I don't advocate the ban of alcoholic beverages at World Cup matches," he said. "I favor a responsible alcohol policy."
He said his earlier letter was meant to stimulate debate.