‘We want beer’: Qatar ‘mess’, FIFA boss nailed

Socceroos great Craig Foster says Qatar’s 11th-hour backflip which saw beer banned from World Cup venues is a prime example of “the mess that FIFA have gotten themselves into”.

FIFA was left red-faced just days out from the tournament opener after the Qatari royal family backtracked on a promise that alcoholic beer would be sold to fans inside the eight World Cup venues.

The backflip caused farcical scenes during the first match of the World Cup between the host nation and Ecuador, with Ecuadorean fans heard chanting “queremos cerveza” repeatedly (we want beer in Spanish) inside the stadium.

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However, according to Foster, the problem is the backflip as opposed to beer being banned itself.

“It’s the reneging (on a promise) that’s the problem from my perspective,” he told Nine’s Today after Ecuador’s 2-0 win over Qatar on Monday morning.

“What they should’ve done years ago is said, ‘Actually Budweiser is a major sponsor of the World Cup, but not this World Cup’.

“But to do it two days before when people think that’s occurring, that’s what’s improper, and that just demonstrates the mess that FIFA have gotten themselves into.

“They have these obligations contractually, they also have human rights obligations, and they’ve spent most of their time trying to avoid them rather than holding Qatar accountable.”

It has been a 12-year-long runway of controversy since Qatar was the World Cup back in 2010 under former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has since called the decision awarded a “mistake”.

Foster said FIFA “have been a party” to the ongoing controversy, and took aim at current president Gianni Infantino, who was widely panned for a bizarre speech at the weekend where he came to the defense of Qatar.

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“It was really unhinged,” Foster said of Infantino’s now-infamous 56-minute speech.

“Gianni Infantino refused to accept culpability for the deaths of migrant workers and has continued to deflect criticism for that.

“It was shades of Sepp Blatter prior to him, and even (International Olympic Committee president) Thomas Bach sometimes with the Olympics. They seem to get in these positions and the power puts them in a position where they feel they’re some historically important global figure.

“He thinks he’s going to stop a war, you can’t even get beer in the stadium. He’s just not prepared to accept the responsibility for all of the things that have gone on.

“That’s why it’s so nice to see the Socceroos make a statement because what this World Cup has really shown is that money can buy people, money can buy sport, and there’s very few teams or people around the world who are prepared to step forward and say that’s not OK.”

Foster said it was important that everyone in the football community continued to shine a light on all the issues surrounding the World Cup, even as play gets underway.

“This is a moment when all the fans and former players and people around the world need to make sure that throughout this month these issues aren’t forgotten,” he said.

“We don’t know where football is going to be at the end of this World Cup.

“We don’t know where Infantino’s going to be. If he started with that rant, who knows what he’s going to finish with. But what’s important is that we continue to raise these issues alongside the football.”

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