Soccer-Ramsdale hoping England performances will compensate for forced sobriety

By Hritika Sharma

AL WAKRAH, Qatar (Reuters) – England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale said on Friday he hoped England can perform well enough at the World Cup that supporters will not need a drink to enjoy themselves, after FIFA confirmed alcoholic beer will not be sold at stadiums.

Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, was to exclusively sell alcoholic beer three hours before and one hour after each game but the decision was reversed two days before the tournament kicks off on Sunday.

Alcohol will still be served inside the stadium hospitality zones, while Budweiser will sell its non-alcoholic beer throughout the stadium precincts.

“Hopefully with them not being able to drink, we can perform on the pitch to give them that sort of excitement and buzz,” Ramsdale told reporters before England take on Iran in their Group B opener on Monday.

“I think the fans will find some way of having a beer. I don’t think you need to do it so much at the game… We also have to respect the rules and continue to work, so we’ll put pressure on ourselves to entertain from the football pitch.”

Ramsdale, 24, said Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford being given the number one shirt was a “fair” decision but added he will do all he can to be ready to play if called upon by manager Gareth Southgate.

Pickford has been Southgate’s first-choice since the 2018 World Cup and started every game at last year’s Euro 2020, while his deputy Nick Pope is more experienced than Ramsdale at international level.

Ramsdale was a late inclusion in England’s Euro squad but did not feature at the tournament, and earned his World Cup call-up after impressive performances for Premier League leaders Arsenal.

“It’s fair. I see as it is. Jordan Pickford has done extremely well for England and he is fine form for Everton. And so is Nick Pope with Newcastle (United). I’m not the only one racking up the clean sheets,” Ramsdale said.

“We’ve got a great bond between the goalkeeping group… You need all three of us to train properly to get the number one to his best. We’re all training like number one at the minute, and it will be difficult for two of us to try and flip the switch and help out.

“Whoever gets that first game will have full support from the group. You never know with tournament football, anything can happen and you just have to be ready if called upon.”

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Doha; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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