PtG Article 20.04.2012

Continued disagreement over special World Cup law

Brazil's Senate is still against adopting a special law regarding the World Cup. In particular, the FIFA requirements for beer sales at World Cup stadiums, which go against previous FIFA guidelines, are encountering resistance.

Last month it seemed that the long-standing conflict over a special law Brazil is expected to adopt for the World Cup in 2014, had been resolved. After a meeting between FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, on 16 March, Blatter announced that they agreed that all obligations should be met and the special law should be adopted as soon as possible.  

It thus seemed that Brazil would also accommodate FIFA and its World Cup sponsor Budweiser by allowing beer sales at the World Cup stadiums despite great national resistance. Beer sales at football matches have been banned in Brazil since July 2010, and as a result the country has seen a decline in the number of violent incidents at its stadiums.

FIFA, in turn, has argued that allowing beer sales at World Cup stadiums is one of the promises Brazil committed itself to when the country signed the agreement to become the host nation. FIFA’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, made it clear three months ago that "alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them,” and added: "excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate.” 

Later he created a real crisis in the relations between the two parties when he declared that the Brazilian organisers were too slow and needed to give themselves “a kick up the backside” if they were to meet the deadlines. 

Senate: No deal on beer sales

Valcke later had to publicly apologise for the latter statement, and it seemed that the conflicts were resolved when the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress of Brazil finally adopted the bill and sent it on for final approval in the upper chamber of Congress, the Senate. But now the Senate rejects the claim that Brazil has made any promises to FIFA regarding beer sales.  

On 12 April, the Senate’s Center for Studies and Research held a workshop on the special law where legal advisor Alexandre Sidnei Guimarães went through the main points of the law as well as Brazil’s promises and commitments made in connection with the Brazilian bid for the World Cup.

In his presentation he underlined that Brazil did not make any promises to permit beer sales when the deal was made in 2007. At that time, a ban against beer sales was, on the contrary, a part of FIFA’s own safety guidelines (see below). 

According to Senate advisor Guimarães, these safety guidelines were only relaxed in 2009, when the current rules took effect at which time FIFA accepted that the sales of alcoholic drinks could be allowed. 

The Senate is now waiting for Blatter

The Brazilian Senate is therefore puzzled over the claim that Brazil should have given any guarantees about selling beer in the stadiums. According to renowned Brazilian journalist and blogger José Cruz, this is something that the Senate would like to discuss with Sepp Blatter.

Blatter was reported to have accepted an invitation to an open debate in the Senate, but has since remained silent, and a date for a visit has not yet been determined. The adoption of the special law is therefore not necessarily just around the corner, as FIFA claimed after meeting with Dilma Rousseff in March.

In its Safety Guidelines from 2004, FIFA wrote: 

Article 19 Ban on the sale of alcohol

  1. The sale and public distribution of alcohol shall be forbidden within the confines of the stadium before and during the match. 
  2. If any persons inside the stadium are found to be under the influence of alcohol or any other substances that may affect their state of mind, the police and security forces shall remove them from the stadium immediately. 
  3. Beverages may only be served in plastic cups.