InBev Set to Win Approval for Brazil Beer Sales During World Cup

Brazil intends to give Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, the green light to sell beer in stadiums during the 2014 soccer World Cup, a senior lawmaker said.

Vicente Candido, sponsor of a special World Cup bill, said the government has enough support in Congress to lift a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages in stadiums during the tournament. He expects the proposal to pass both houses of the government-controlled legislature early next year.

The announcement marks a breakthrough after weeks of standoff between the five-time world champion and the global soccer authority FIFA on issues stemming from an accord signed when the World Cup was awarded to Brazil in 2007. InBev last month extended its beer sponsorship for the FIFA World Cup through 2022.

“Evidently we have to and will comply with the agreement,” Candido, a lower-house legislator of the ruling Workers’ Party, said by telephone from Brasilia. “In the culture of Brazil, a tropical country of football and carnival,” it makes no sense to prohibit the sale of beer in stadiums, Candido said. “It’s not a problem.”

FIFA this year balked at Brazil’s demands to grant students and the elderly discount tickets to the matches, as is required under national law. The two sides have also squabbled over intellectual property right enforcement and public security.

“FIFA is very strict, very rigid,” said Candido.

Controlling Stake

Brazilian billionaires Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Herrmann Telles and Carlos Alberto da Veiga Sicupira own a controlling stake in InBev through Stichting AK, a Netherlands-based firm. InBev CEO Carlos Alves de Brito is also Brazilian.

InBev, based in Leuven, Belgium, said in an e-mailed comment that it would not speculate on expected beer sales during the tournament and would respect any decisions that FIFA and the Brazilian organizing committee take regarding beer sales.

Brazil’s Sports Ministry declined to comment.

Brazilians including former soccer star Romario de Souza Faria, now a lower house representative from Rio de Janeiro, have called FIFA’s commercial demands an infringement on national sovereignty. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is banned in Brazil due to concern that it fuels violence in stadiums.

“I’m going to fight until the end so that FIFA doesn’t mount a state within a state,” Romario said earlier this month.

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