RIO DE JANEIRO, July 8 (AFP): It has been a common sight at World Cup games: huge lines of fans buying beer inside stadiums before returning home with stacks of empty souvenir cups in their hands.
A top FIFA official expressed concern at the amount of drinking during the month-long tournament, though it was football�s world governing body that forced Brazil to change its laws to allow beer sales at stadiums.
Despite the concerns, beer is expected to continue to flow unimpeded during the two semi-final games, Brazil-Germany on Tuesday and Argentina-Netherlands on Wednesday.
Brazil outlawed alcohol at games in 2003 to curb fan violence, but it had to pass a special law authorizing booze at the World Cup as part of its agreement to host it.
In the corridors of the 12 World Cup arenas, fans lined up to buy US-made Budweiser or the local Brahma brand, both owned by Belgian-Brazilian giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, a major tournament sponsor.
Many fans have streamed out of stadiums with handfuls of the 473-milliliter (16-fluid ounce) commemorative cups in their hands. They paid 13 reals (USD 6) for a Budweiser, or 10 reals (USD 4.50) for a Brahma, and the cups have become hot items for sale online.
But AFP reporters saw some heated arguments, including a brawl, during two games at Rio de Janeiro�s Maracana Stadium involving fans who had apparently consumed alcohol.