Drinking Issues

Something unusual happened in two of Egypt's matches in the World Cup. Moahmed El Shenawy won the man of the match award for his performance against Uruguay and Mohamed Salah won the same award after the match against Saudi Arabia. Even though it might be a prestigous title by some how, both refused to take the trophy of this title.

It wasn't a protest against FIFA or anger due to the results. El Shenawy and Salah refused to take the trophy that is sponsored by Budweiser. As Muslims, they didn't want to be connected to something that is forbidden in their religion like drinking alcohol.

This kind of controversy is not the first that was connected to Anheuser-Busch, a brewing company that is sponsoring the World Cup since 1986.

 Mohamed El Shenawy refuse to take the trophy after the match against Uruguay (Marwen Ahmed)

Mohamed El Shenawy refuse to take the trophy after the match against Uruguay (Marwen Ahmed)

World Cup sponsorship is an interesting business. FIFA sponsorship profit in 2014 World Cup was about 1.6 billion dollars. It gives a chance for companies to get exposure in one of the worldwide main events and being advertised in every World Cup event. One of the biggest advantages is the fact that these companies get an absolute monopoly on the field. For example, if you want to buy something to drink in the stadium and you want to pay with a credit card, you can only do it with Visa credit card, as they are World Cup sponsors.

Anheuser-Busch, a Belgian-Brazilian brewing company, is sponsoring the World Cup for more than 30 years. Although their leading brand is Budweiser, the only World Cup they missed since 1986 was the World Cup that took place in United States in 1994. As a leading sponsors, they are the only company that its beers are allowed to be sold inside the stadium. The connection between FIFA and Anheuser-Busch is so strong, that FIFA decided in January 2011 to extend the agreement with the company until 2022.

Sometimes this agreement can cause political problems. In 2012, the Brazilian parliament approved a bill that will allow selling beer in stadiums during the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. In Brazil it became popular to mock this decision, named it "Budweiser Bill". Maybe in order to make this decision more acceptable, another beer brand has been sold in the stadiums during the games, the local brand Brahma, which is unsurprisingly also part of  Anheuser-Busch's brands.

 Belgian fan drinks during 2014 World Cup, result of political decisions (AFP / Getty Images)

Belgian fan drinks during 2014 World Cup, result of political decisions (AFP / Getty Images)

FIFA is not the only one that facing problems with beer brands. During Euro 2016, Carlsberg made a rebranding due to a law in France that forbids alcohol advertising. Someone in the Danish brand thought about a creative way in order to keep their place, as their commercials used part of their slogan without mentioning the brand name.

A clash between the rules and sponsorhip can cause some weird situations. In last March, after another MLS match, Vancouver Whitecaps fans got a chance to vote for their MVP, sponsored once again by Budweiser. To their surprise, the winning goal scorer, Alphonso Davis, wasn't even nominated. Later on, the team said that 17-years-old Davies can't be nominated because he is younger than the legal drinking age.

The future of the football will be more dependent on the sponsors. In the case of the Egyptian players, FIFA decided to remove Budweiser logos from the official publictaions. FIFA did it also when players from Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal won the title. These incidents are rising a question about the limit of the tensions between political or cultural issues and the sponsors' products. The next World Cup will be in a country that forbids selling alcohol, until then we will have to wait to the moment that it will be clear which of these sides will be more dominant.

 Beer in the stadiums during 2018 World Cup, what we will see in Qatar? (Reuters)

Beer in the stadiums during 2018 World Cup, what we will see in Qatar? (Reuters)

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