State Duma to return to Tatarstan's initiative to sell beer at stadiums this month

State Duma to return to Tatarstan's initiative to sell beer at stadiums this month

State Duma to return to Tatarstan's initiative to sell beer at stadiums this month
Photo: Maksim Platonov (archive photo - at Confederations Cup match, 2017)

For the benefit of youth sports

Fifteen years after the introduction of the ban on the sale of beer at sports facilities in Russia, they decided to return to the practice of watching sports shows at stadiums with a glass of beer in their hands.

The head of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, Boris Paikin, told TASS that already this November, parliamentarians can adopt a bill on the sale of beer at stadiums. However, he said it was “too early to draw conclusions about the final decision yet”.

Boris Paykin said that already this November parliamentarians can adopt a bill on the sale of beer at stadiums. Photo: duma.gov.ru

Indeed, the draft bill “On amendments to Article 16 of the Federal Law 'On state regulation of the production and turnover of ethyl alcohol, alcoholic and alcohol-containing products and on restriction of consumption (drinking) of alcoholic products' and Article 20 of the Federal Law 'On physical culture and sports in the Russian Federation” are listed for consideration by the Committee on Economic Policy, Industry, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship during the autumn session of 2020.

The initiators of the “beer bill” are deputies of the LDPR faction, Igor Lebedev and Dmitry Svishchev.

This is already the second reading for the bill. On December 13, 2019, the State Duma approved the amendments in the first reading. This was justified by that the return of beer to stadiums will allow football clubs to increase the amount of funds allocated for the development and promotion of football in Russia, including youth football. As a result, this will increase the chances of winning the World and European Football Championships.

It became known about that they proposed to amend the draft bill and allow the sale of beer at all sports matches, with the exception of children's, in January 2020. According to Svishchev, this idea was supported by the presidents of sports federations.

Drinking beer, according to the authors of the draft bill, should go to the benefit of children's and youth sports: all funds from the sale of the foamy drink will be directed to the development of youth sports in Russia. Control over this is planned to be entrusted to the ministry of sports of the Russian Federation.

Drinking beer, according to the authors of the draft bill, should go to the benefit of children's and youth sports

At the same time, in January, VTSIOM conducted a survey of Russians. It turned out that more than 90% of respondents rated drinking the foamy drink at sports events as inappropriate, and 80% opposed the return to selling beer at football stadiums.

Tatarstan origins of the “beer initiative”

The “beer issue” of the State Duma originates in Tatarstan. The ideological inspiration for Lebedev and Svishchev was President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. In 2018, he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to “return beer to stadiums for the sake of the Orthodox”, justifying this concern for the “brothers” of another religion. The ROC did not appreciate the broad gesture of support of the Tatarstan president and spoke “categorically against the proposal”.

As an argument for Minnikhanov, he cited the world football championship that was sensational at that time in Kazan. According to him, the sale of beer for 89 million rubles did not entail “any excesses”.

Following the Tatarstan president, the idea was approved by the then Russian sports minister, Pavel Kolobkov. He stressed that the experience of selling beer at stadiums in the country is available, and the use of the drink “does not affect the behaviour of fans”.

The idea was approved by the then Russian sports minister, Pavel Kolobkov

The Russian ministry of healthcare, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church, did not appreciate the “care” of fans at stadiums. The department stated that the return to the practice of “beer banquets” would lead to an increase in alcohol consumption and, as a result, the number of offenses.

In May 2019, the Deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation for social policy, Tatyana Golikova, gave a negative assessment of the “beer initiative”, saying that she knows “how difficult it is to overcome and how expensive it is in terms of contributing to the health of a particular citizen”.

Last July, former brewer and State Duma Deputy Ayrat Khayrullin in an interview with Realnoe Vremya said that the “liquid bread” (as beer is called in Europe) is not even considered alcohol in some countries. According to him, the higher the consumption of beer, the lower the mortality rate.

Brewers offered to use the money raised to fight the pandemic

Local brewers are positive about the idea of selling beer at stadiums. For example, Chairman of the Beer Association of Tatarstan Rinat Akchurin in a conversation with Realnoe Vremya reminded that they themselves once came out with such proposal at the level of the government of the Republic of Tatarstan. He also gave arguments about the success of the 2018 World Cup in Kazan and about beer as “liquid bread”.

“I believe that it is normal to sell beer at stadiums. This practice exists all over the world. When Kazan hosted the World Cup, we sold beer, and there was not a single emergency. That is, there is no negative from this," Akchurin said. According to him, everything only needs to be properly organised.

“The stadium is a place where people come for bread and entertainment. And this bread, by which we mean beer, should be from a local manufacturer, because it is more convenient for them to evaluate the product correctly: not just to sell beer, but non-alcoholic beer, beer of no special strength, so that people do not get completely intoxicated," the head of the local Beer Association highlighted.

The local brewer also expressed hopes that the stadiums would organise the sale of foamy drinks from local producers: “I think it would be great if every stadium in every republic sold beer from local producers”.

“If beer is brought from another region, as a rule, it is just distributors who do not care where, what, just to sell more. Local producers want to have order in their republic, organise the right delivery, the right types of beer, organise order," Akchurin said.

“The stadium is a place where people come for bread and entertainment. And this bread, by which we mean beer, should be from a local manufacturer," Akchurin believes. Photo: Maksim Platonov (archive photo — at Confederations Cup match, 2017)

When asked where, in his opinion, to effectively direct the proceeds from the sale of beer at stadiums, he replied that “this is budget money, the government of the republic and the state should decide.” However, he noted that now, during the pandemic, it would be right to direct money to medicines, hospitals, beds and the fight against coronavirus.

By Tatyana Demina
Analytics Tatarstan