Doha, Qatar — The theme at the luxury W hotel in central Doha is beer. Budweiser beer. The walls are festooned with Budweiser labels. “Budweiser” is painted in enormous script along the check-in desk. There’s a “Budweiser Player of the Match” corner, where armchair soccer stars can take selfies while hoisting a fake trophy against a Budweiser background. Bathed in red and white, the place has the feel of a giant beer can.
Budweiser, which has been the official beer sponsor of the World Cup for the past 36 years, remade the hotel into what it called “a home away from home experience” in anticipation of the 2022 tournament. That was before the moment, two days before the opening match, when Qatar’s government threw Budweiser’s carefully crafted (and quite expensive) beer-selling plans into disarray by suddenly forbidding the sale of alcohol in or around the tournament stadiums during the event.