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Michigan sports bars are expecting to score with World Cup games

People gather in November 2021 around the official countdown clock showing remaining time until the kick-off of the World Cup 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
Darko Bandic
People gather in November 2021 around the official countdown clock showing remaining time until the kick-off of the World Cup 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Michigan sports bars are preparing for extra business as the World Cup kicks off.

The international soccer tournament‘s first match is Sunday between Ecuador and host nation Qatar.

Thomas Magee’s Sporting House in Detroit specializes in international soccer. Owner Erik Olson says he expects his bar will be busy for every single game of the World Cup, especially when the U-S National team is playing.

“We know that realistically we’ll probably finish second in the group...which would make our advancement game at December 3 at 10am,” Olson said with a laugh “So, the entire staff knows if the US advances, everybody’s working that day. It’s going to be short notice. But everybody’s working that day.”

Since the tournament is being played in the Middle East, the majority of the matches will air in the U.S. before noon.

Still Olson expects his bar will be packed for morning World Cup games.

“If you walk into Thomas Magee’s at 8:30 in the morning when there’s a big soccer game on and there’s a 150 guys in there drinking beer, that’s not out of order,” said Olson, though he admits it will be a different experience for other Michigan sports bars.

Ironically, beer is off the menu at the actual World Cup.

This week, Qatar banned the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums. It was a sudden U-turn on the deal the conservative Muslim emirate made to secure the soccer tournament only two days before the opening game.

The move was the latest sign of the tension of staging the event in the autocratic country where the sale of alcohol is heavily restricted. It's also a significant blow to World Cup beer sponsor Budweiser and raised questions about how much control FIFA retains over its tournament.

When Qatar launched its bid to host the World Cup, the country agreed to FIFA's requirements of selling alcohol in stadiums. But the details were only released in September, just 11 weeks before the first kickoff. Friday's statement from FIFA said non-alcoholic beer will still be sold at stadiums.

Meanwhile, many bars in Germany are boycotting the tournament and many fans say they won't watch in protest against human rights abuses in Qatar.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.