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DOHA: FIFA will earn up $700 million more from the Qatar World Cup than it did four years ago despite relentless criticism in the build-up to the tournament, president Gianni Infantino said on Saturday.

Infantino said media rights were up about $200 million compared with the 2018 tournament in Russia, sponsorship was $200 million extra and tickets and hospitality would bring in $200 to $300 million more.

“All in all this World Cup will generate for FIFA around $600-$700 million more than the last World Cup,” he said ahead of the Sunday’s opening match between Qatar and Ecuador.

Infantino said he would reveal FIFA’s global revenues for the past four years to national associations on Sunday.

But he insisted the Qatar tournament – which has faced criticism over rights issues and its climate – had defied doubters.

“I was told that sponsors will jump from FIFA, people will switch off their TV, they will not watch the World Cup because of the scandal, nobody will come to Qatar anyway because it is winter.”

Hailing a “commercial success”, Infantino said: “If so many people around the world have invested so much money in the World Cup in Qatar, they invest because they believe in FIFA” and “trust” Qatar.

“Either those people are stupid, or somebody, those who say nobody will watch it, that nobody cares about this World Cup, might be little bit wrong as some of the polls in some countries were wrong as well.”

Infantino justified a decision announced Friday to ban the sale of beer around the eight stadiums on the “flows” of fans in the city.

He said the move had been understood by its beer sponsor Budweiser and its parent company AB InBev.

Budweiser had only a few weeks ago agreed a new sponsorship deal until 2026.

“Partners are partners in good and bad times, in difficult and easy times,” he said.

Infantino also dismissed the importance of the late U-turn.

“If this is the biggest issue we have for the World Cup then I will sign (off) immediately and go to the beach and relax until December 18,” he said.

The FIFA leader said there were still enough places in Muslim Qatar – which severely restricts the sale of alcohol – for up to 100,000 people at any one time to buy beer in fan zones and hotels.

“For me personally, if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer you will survive.”

He said the rules banning beer in stadiums applied in European countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland.

“Here it seems to become a big thing because it is a Muslim country,” he said, returning to his theme that Qatar had faced “racism” and “hypocrisy”.

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Mushtaque Ahmed Nov 20, 2022 10:39pm
All should remember the adage "Do in Rome as Romans do."
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