The claim: Image shows smuggled Heineken cans disguised as Pepsi at World Cup
Two days before the World Cup kicked off, FIFA – soccer's global governing body – abruptly announced alcoholic beer would no longer be sold at stadiums during the tournament in Qatar, frustrating many of the one million fans expected at the games.
Some social media users are saying attendees have found a way around the ban. They are sharing a photo of Heineken beer cans that have been disguised as Pepsi.
The photo, though, is seven years old and wasn't taken in Qatar. It shows a customs official in Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is banned, peeling the label off a Heineken can that had been made to look like a Pepsi, according to multiple media reports published at the time.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment.
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Photo shows one of 48,000 smuggled cans seized by Saudi officials
In November 2015, Saudi Arabia’s customs agency released the photo after authorities at the country's border with the United Arab Emirates seized 48,000 cans of Heineken disguised as Pepsi.
"A truck carrying what first seemed to be normal cans of the soft drink Pepsi was stopped and after the standard process of searching the products, it became clear that the alcoholic beers were covered with Pepsi’s sticker logos," said Al Batha border General Manager Abdulrahman al-Mahna, according to The Washington Post, which cited Al Arabiya News.
Qatar has not outlawed alcohol entirely, but drinking in public is not allowed and it is a crime to be drunk in public, according to the Library of Congress, which released information on Qatar's laws ahead of the World Cup. The penalty for drinking in public is up to six months in prison and a fine of more than $800. Anyone caught smuggling alcohol into the country could face up to three years in prison.
FIFA and Qatari officials had previously compromised on beer sales, deciding alcoholic beer would only be sold within the stadium perimeter before and after games and not inside the stadium itself. FIFA gave no explanation for the sudden reversal before the tournament, and Qatari organizers referred to FIFA's statement when asked for clarification.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that an image shows smuggled Heineken cans disguised as Pepsi at the World Cup. The photo is not from this year's World Cup. It is from 2015 and was taken in Saudi Arabia after authorities seized 48,000 cans of Heineken disguised as Pepsi at a border crossing.
Our fact-check sources:
FIFA, Nov. 18, Statement
The Seattle Times, Nov. 14, 2015, Saudi Arabia cracks case of smuggled beer disguised as Pepsi
Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, Nov. 13, 2015, Pepsi Drink stickers on 48,000 cans with alcohol revealed an attempt to smuggle them through the Batha Customs
The Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2015, How do you smuggle 48,000 cans of Heineken into Saudi Arabia? Disguise it as Pepsi.
Al Arabiya News, Nov. 12, 2015, Saudi police confiscate 48,000 beer cans masked as soft drinks
Library of Congress, Sept. 1, Qatar: Domestic Laws issued in Relation to the 2022 World Cup – Part 2
The Associated Press, Nov. 28, Photo of beer disguised as Pepsi is from Saudi Arabia in 2015, not Qatar
The New York Times, Nov 18, Ban on Beer Is Latest Flash Point in World Cup Culture Clash
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Image of beer disguised as Pepsi from 2015, not World Cup