AB InBev in a statement said: "As partners of FIFA for over three decades, we look forward to our activations of FIFA World Cup campaigns around the world to celebrate football with our consumers. Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control."
FIFA and AB InBev have previously said they’re trying to create an atmosphere that’s “respectful” toward Qatar’s customs and traditions while still making alcohol available for those who want it.
Read more: World Cup marketing guide for brands
The tournament has already been beset with controversies, ranging from scheduling complications due to Qatar’s summer heat to the treatment of migrant workers. Difficulties could mount once fans arrive and face local norms, such as dress codes requiring men and women to cover their bodies from shoulders to knees in many public spaces.
Alcohol availability has been a particular flash-point for criticism around FIFA’s decision to hold the quadrennial soccer spectacle in a conservative Muslim country where public displays of affection, boisterousness and drunkenness are taboo.
Qatar prohibits alcohol sales at almost all restaurants not associated with a high-end hotel or resort. With employer permission, foreign residents can also buy bottles of liquor, beer and wine for home consumption from a single Qatar Airways-run depot on the outskirts of Doha.
The tightening of rules on where fans can drink beer brings another level of inequality to the games. Fans who have access to high-end hospitality suites—often purchased by corporations, royals or directly by CEOs—will be able to drink alcohol during the match. Tickets for these venues start at $950, offering wine and beer. At the top-level Pearl Suite, $34,300 gets a fan access for 10 matches, including a semifinal and the final.
The suite features guest appearances from celebrities, a six-course “gastronomic showcase,” Champagne, premium spirits, preferential parking and other services, according to a spokeswoman for Match Hospitality, which organizes the packages.