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article imageOp-Ed: Fifa to Brazil — Pass law, beer 'must be sold' at 2014 World Cup

By Elizabeth Batt     Jan 19, 2012 in Sports
Rio De Janeiro - There's a battle brewing between Fifa and the Brazilian Congress over the selling of alcohol at the 2014 Fifa World Cup. Brazil has banned the sale of alcohol at all of its stadiums but a major sponsor of the event is Budweiser.
How important is beer and football? According to Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke, it's essential, and he has virtually ordered the Brazilian Congress to sell it at all of its stadiums during the 2014 Fifa World Cup. Brazil banned alcohol sales at its stadiums back in 2003, hoping to curb the violence between rival fans. Whether the ban has been effective or not is under much debate, after all, banning alcohol does nothing to curb the passion and football fans are nothing if not passionate.
Still, the situation is complicated further when one considers the sponsors of the World Cup. One of the largest is Budweiser, who pays "$28M for the privilege" writes Celebrity Networth. Not a small chunk of change by any standards, particularly if it doesn't even get to sell its products. Ouch.
Secretary Valcke is not at all pleased at the prospect either and according to the BBC is currently in Rio de Janeiro to express his frustration to Congress. "Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we're going to have them," he told Brazilian reporters, adding, "excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate."
Valcke is quite adamant on the issue and is insisting that the right to sell beer must be enshrined in a new World Cup law, currently under consideration by the Brazilian Congress. The problem is, congress has yet to pass the law because it is still debating the sale of alcohol issue, five years after winning the bid to host the cup.
Valcke is looking to tackle opposition from members of congress who wish to see the ban maintained. This includes Brazil's health Health Minister, Alexandre Padilha, who is insisting that the no beer here rule must stay in place.
Perhaps they should get together over a ... cup of coffee?
The culture of football is that of passion, fervent team support and beer. Alcohol consumption or 'drunkenness' is one of the most reported causes of violent disorder in football fans, says the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), "even in circumstances where there is no evidence of excessive drinking."
Controls over alcohol have been in place for some time at football stadiums across England. Alcohol sales are limited during certain times during a match, and in Scotland, there is a blanket ban on alcohol sales. In 1982, reported SICR, when alcohol and hooliganism was considered to be at its peak, Aston Villa fans attending a European Cup Final against Bayern Munich, were sold non-alcoholic beer at a bar in the stadium. Bayern fans meanwhile, received the authentic stuff.
In what officials labeled, "the big con," observations of both sets of fans said SIRC, led John Williams, professor of sociology at the University of Leicester, to suggest in Hooligans Abroad:
"That football violence derives from deeply entrenched social factors within British society rather than from immediate situational or psychological processes."
In other words, said SIRC, the relevance of alcohol to fan behavior was not considered a measurable factor. Yet three years later adds SIRC, Williams et al, in a "call for restrictions on the availability of alcohol to British fans abroad," recommended "an alcohol ban [...] for all England matches on the continent."
But back to Brazil. Did the banning of alcohol from Brazilian football stadiums in 2003 actually work?
Not according to the BBC's South American football correspondent Tim Vickery, who says the ban has had limited impact. "Supporters tend to stay longer outside stadiums" to drink, the BBC report added, and these "areas [...] are harder to police than inside."
But money talks and the majority of football fans swig beer as well as they sing. Perhaps then, Brazil should best instead consider how they host the Fifa World Cup rather than launch the battle of the beer? With all due respect to South Africa in 2010, those vuvuzelas were enough to drive anyone to drink.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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