BRASILI - Beer drinking soccer fans should be able to savour their favorite beverage during matches at the 2014 World Cup after Brazilian lawmakers approved a bill suspending a ban on sales in stadiums.
The bill regulating the beautiful game's quadrennial extravaganza received near unanimous support in the House of Deputies late on Wednesday, paving the way for beer to be sold in plastic cups inside the venues.
Sales of alcoholic beverages in sports arenas have been banned in Brazil since 2003 but the World Cup bill will create an exception that had been demanded by world governing body FIFA.
The bill, which still has to be endorsed by the Senate before being ratified by President Dilma Rousseff, will also allow beer to be sold in stadiums during the 2013 Confederations Cup.
FIFA had sought the exception over an agreement with its sponsor, US-based Anheuser-Busch brand Budweiser, and because banning beer sales in 12 Brazilian host cities would have hit the football organisation's revenues.
The lifting of the ban came through an agreement between the government, the opposition and the country's powerful pro-agribusiness bloc.
However some lawmakers insisted FIFA will still have to negotiate permission for beer sales separately with the individual Brazilian states concerned.
Seven of the 12 cities that will host World Cup games have laws that ban beer sales.
The bill also gives FIFA exclusive rights to pictures, sound and other forms of expression linked to the World Cup and slaps penal and financial sanctions for any illegal reproduction.
It will also reserve one per cent of admission tickets for handicapped people and mandates that 300,000 tickets be sold at discounted prices.
Renan Filho, a member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party which is allied with the government, said of the lifting of the ban: "It's a temporary change to ensure the best World Cup for Brazil."
But Vicente Candido, a member of President Rousseff's Workers Party and a sponsor of the bill, described it as a compromise that does not fully meet the wishes of the government, FIFA and civil society.