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Controversial FIFA bill passes first hurdle in Brazil

Bill would reverse long-standing ban on serving alcohol at stadiums

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View of the National Stadium works in Brasilia in Feb. 2012. The National Stadium is under constructionas part of preparations for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 (Evaristo SA/AFP/Getty Images)

A bill that would force Brazil to reverse its ban on serving alcohol at stadiums for the 2014 FIFA World Cup have been passed by a congressional commission.

The bill outlines the government's commitments to soccer's world governing body ahead of the tournament, the Sports Illustrated website explains.

The BBC reports that it includes a number of controversial measures,including one that would limit the right of Brazilian students to half-price tickets to matches.

It also requires a commitment from government that alcohol be sold at all participating venues, despite the fact that alcohol has been banned at all Brazilian soccer matches since 2003 as part of attempts to tackle violence between rival football fans.

The BBC says that the FIFA General Secretary reiterated that the condition was non-negotiable during a visit to Brazil in January.

"Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them," Jerome Valcke is quoted as saying.  "Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate. The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law," he added.

Earlier this week, Associated Press reported the one of the country's most powerful consumer rights groups, the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Rights, publicly opposed the bill saying that it gave FIFA too much power and few responsibilities. 

The group urged Brazilians to use social media to pressure congressmen into voting against the bill, according to the news agency.

Having gotten the approval of the congressional commission the bill will now go to a vote in the lower house and the senate, before it can finally be signed into law by Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/brazil/120229/controversial-fifa-bill-passes-first-hurdle-brazil