FIFA official 'amazed' by World Cup's drunkenness

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FIFA official 'amazed' by World Cup's drunkenness
A drunk fan of Brazil argues with a private security guard after being kicked out before the Chile vs. Brazil soccer match from the FIFA Fan Fest, during the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, June 28, 2014.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Tuesday, June 17, 2014 photo, Mexican fans drinks tequila outside of the Arena Castelao before the World Cup group A soccer match between Brazil and Mexico in Fortaleza, Brazil. Many of the soccer fans traveling from the U.S. to Brazil, are part of the last great wave of Mexican migration to the United States, which spanned the 1990s to the mid-2000s. Others are second-generation Mexicans who grew up rooting for the Mexican team at a time when Team USA was still unknown. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
A Belgian fan drinks from his helmet cup before the group H World Cup soccer match between Belgium and Russia at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Two French soccer both draped with national flag of France fans drink beer as they arrive for the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
English fans hold up their drinks before the group D World Cup soccer match between England and Italy at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (Antonio Calanni)
England soccer fans from Nottingham cheer as they drink just off a central square in Manaus, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. England play Italy in group D of the 2014 soccer World Cup in Manaus on Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: A vendor sells beverages outside the stadium as a fan looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 01: A U.S. fan spills while chugging a beer before the start of the U.S. match against Belgium at FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach on July 1, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U.S. lost the match 2-1 in extra time. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 28: An informal beer vendor (R) looks on as Brazilians celebrate their first goal against Chile while watching a live broadcast on Copacabana Beach on June 28, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil leads 1-0 at halftime. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 22: American fans hold aloft a flag, a beer and a Homer Simpson doll at the FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach before the USA-Portugal match during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil on June 22, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
A supermarket customer walks past packs of beer stacked to display the Brazilian flag and a message of support for the Brazilian team in Manaus on June 21, 2014, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 12: Beer is sprayed as Brazilians celebrate in Vila Madalena after Brazil won their opening match over Croatia on June 12, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is the first day of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 14: Empty beer bottles are stacked on a table of England football fans as they watch the game between Uruguay and Costa Rica in the FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil. Group D teams, England and Italy, will play their opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup when they meet in Manaus this evening. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
ES São Paulo (SP) 11/06/2014 - Copa do Mundo 2014 - Torcedores do lado de fora da Arena Itaquera bebendo cerveja da concorrente da patrocinadora. Foto Alexandre Cassiano / Agência O Globo.
Beer cups thrown by Mexican supporters are strewn on the pitch during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - FIFA's number two official has said he's "amazed" by the levels of drunkenness in Brazil's World Cup stadiums, reviving a debate over whether alcohol sales should have been allowed at matches in the first place.

In an interview with Brazil's sports television network SporTV, Jerome Valcke acknowledged Monday that "maybe there were too many people who were drunk" at the matches and pointed to the connection between inebriation and violence.

Brazil banned alcohol sales at soccer matches in 2003 in a bid to curb fan violence. But Budweiser is a major World Cup sponsor and the tournament's organizer, FIFA, insisted Brazil lift the ban in order to host the month-long event. Lawmakers opposed to lifting the ban delayed the passage of a World Cup law that gave FIFA financial and legal guarantees to organize the event, and the issue became a major source of friction between FIFA and Brazilian officials.

During the protracted debate over the legislation, Valcke stated in 2012 that in-stadium beer sales were a key part of World Cup tradition and that lifting Brazil's ban was non-negotiable.

In Monday's SporTV interview, Valcke appeared to soften his position, saying alcohol sales are "something we have to look at."

"If we think that it is necessary to control (alcohol sales) we will control them," said Valcke, who spoke in English through a Portuguese translator. "We would never put the organization of a match at risk."

Fan violence has broken out at several matches here, including Saturday's Colombia-Uruguay match in Rio de Janeiro, where stewards had to intervene to separate hostile spectators. Following the match, apparently inebriated Argentine fans celebrating their team's victory over Iran on June 21 caused a dust-up in the central Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

Valcke stressed that in-stadium beer sales have never been a problem in previous World Cups.

"I was amazed by the number of people who were drunken and the level of alcohol" in Brazil, he said, adding "I was a bit surprised."

The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Qatar, a Gulf state where alcohol consumption in public is forbidden.

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