Seattle man visiting Qatar finds solution to World Cup alcohol ban

QATAR — In a last-minute about-face, FIFA barred the sales of alcoholic drinks to World Cup fans in the stands at stadiums in Qatar, the conservative Islamic nation where the games are being held.

FIFA has been walking a fine line when it comes to serving and promoting alcohol at the World Cup by only selling it in restricted areas and promoting Budweiser as a sponsor instead of a beer.

But a Seattle man who’s visiting Qatar has created a map of where to find a beer or other alcoholic drink at legal establishments in the country.

“I’m in aerospace sales, so I use Google Maps a lot to kind of pinpoint customers and save it as geo-location of where I need to go and where I’ve been. I transferred that idea — we have this whole list of bars that legally serve (alcohol) in Qatar — that have legal permits to sell,” said Ed Ball.

Ball wanted fans to know where to go by creating a shareable Google map.

“You share it with a group, and they share it with a group and they share with another group. As of today, it’s probably close to 550,000 user shares,” said Ball.

Ball said it started as just a hobby for his travel group, but soon became a resource for people around World Cup venues.

In a twist, the alcohol sales ban at stadiums has only helped increase the popularity of Ball’s map and the venues he’s listed.

People are even sharing Ball’s map with him and telling him to use it without realizing he’s the person who created it.

Ball said he’s using his newfound fame to promote the Seattle beer he loves in the Georgetown neighborhood where he lives.

“Jellyfish, Georgetown Brewery, Full Throttle Bottle Shop there. Everybody’s like, ‘Why don’t you monetize this,’ and I said, ‘That’s not the intent behind creating this map. It was to help my fellow drinkers and football soccer supporters,’” said Ball.

According to Ball, he’s been told that some soccer federations are also sharing his map.

Ball admitted that he doesn’t drink very much during matches. He’s been to four matches in Qatar and said from his perspective, the country has been a good host.