Rio de Janeiro: Brazil fought hard when FIFA insisted it overturn its ban on alcohol in stadiums, but the World Cup hosts lost, and with the tournament now under way it's official: beer is back.
A Brazilian fan, wearing a mask, drinks beer outside the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo ahead of World Cup opener on Thursday. Pic/AFP
After 11 years of stadium sobriety, FIFA and its sponsor Budweiser celebrated the suspension of Brazil's law against alcohol sales at matches — a bid to stop crowd violence — by pouring thousands of cold ones for fans at Thursday's opening game in Sao Paulo.
Fans could also buy Bud Zero and local brands Brahma and Brahma Zero, all owned by AB InBev, the world's biggest brewer.
Those will be the only alcoholic beverages on sale at matches, thanks to Budweiser's contract to sponsor the World Cup until 2022, a deal estimated to be worth several million dollars a year.
Fans looking for caipirinhas or any other beer will have to find a street vendor — who, in another concession to FIFA, are kept well away from the stadium.
Last month the German Centre for Addiction Issues, a health lobby group, condemned the lifting of the ban for the World Cup and last year's Confederations Cup warm-up tournament.
FIFA rejected the group's criticism.