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Industry News

Rostov Arena sued by FIFA beer sponsor

Sun InBev, the Russian arm of Belgian brewing company AB InBev, is to sue one of the stadia being used to stage this summer’s FIFA World Cup in the country over the decision to prohibit the sale of alcohol at the venue.

The Rostov Arena has opted to invoke a 2005 law that does not allow the sale, purchase or use of alcohol at places of mass gathering.

As part of preparations for the national football team tournament, Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 signed a law that would enable FIFA and its partners to sell alcohol at all matches.

However, this law does not cover alcohol-free zones including airports, train stations, medical and educational organisations, petrol stations, markets or places of mass gathering, the latter of which the Rostov Arena has been classified as by the city’s government.

Oraz Durdyev, board member and corporate affairs director at Sun InBev, told R-Sport that Rostov’s current position contradicts Russian federal law and should the situation not change in the lead up to this summer’s tournament, the firm will be forced to take legal action.

“Regional authorities hosting World Cup matches are introducing initiatives which contradict Russian federal law and restrict the sponsors rights,” Durdyev said.

“Beer has always been an inseparable part of Western football culture, that’s why we don’t want to deny football fans from all over the world an opportunity (to drink it).”

“At the moment we are continuing our dialogue with representatives of regional government to resolve the issue. But if our concerns remain unmet and acts contradicting the federal law are adopted, we will be forced to protect our legal rights and interests in court by filing an administrative lawsuit to overturn the [local authorities’] legislation.”