Pouring Through a Crisis: How Budweiser Salvaged Its World Cup

Consuming less alcohol is a good thing, obviously. How are visitors to the World Cup enjoying Budweiser Zero?

Lee O’Hare, 27, of Ireland, said he supported the notion of alcohol-free beer in general, just not for himself. “I got one at the opening ceremony for the love of the game,” he said, “but it just tasted like a watered-down version of a beer.”

David Allen, 51, who was visiting from Australia, said that he, too, tried a Bud Zero — mostly because it was there. “I couldn’t drink more than one,” he said.

His friend Ben Weeks, 48, said that, sadly, alcohol-free beer was not his idea of a good time on a hot day.

“I find water more refreshing,” he said, “and it gives me the same alcohol content.”

Meanwhile, dark theories abounded as to why the Qataris had waited so long to pull the plug on beer in stadiums. Fort, the sports marketing expert, said he thought Qatar’s decision was a result of inattention, not premeditation. But many fans were convinced the beer’s removal had been the idea all along.

“I think the Qatari government planned the entire time not to allow beer sales in the stadium, but they didn’t want to say anything because they were afraid people wouldn’t come,” said Marty Brazeau, a 36-year-old teacher from the Seattle area, who had come to the W Hotel in search of something to drink. “I’m not sure I would have come.”