Fact CheckSports

Viral image of beer disguised as Pepsi did not happen in QATAR

Claim: Social media users have shared images of seized cans of beer disguised as Pepsi, claiming it happened in QATAR.

Verdict: False. A Yandex reverse image search shows that the image went viral in 2015 when a ban on alcohol in Saudi Arabia drove a smuggler to try to cross into the Arab state from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 48,000 cans of Heineken beer.

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Social media users are already anticipating what this year’s FIFA World Cup could bring. This year’s World Cup will be played from November 20 to December 18. Thirty-two teams will compete in 64 matches in QATAR. However, since QATAR, a Muslim country is considered to be conservative and tightly regulates alcohol sales and usage, authorities banned alcoholic drinks at stadiums where the World Cup matches will be played. The decision has generated several conversations

In relation to this, a Twitter user @Sammens, on Sunday, November 20, 2022, tweeted a picture that depicts that QATAR authorities have uncovered alcoholic drinks branded as Pepsi, which were being smuggled into the country.  

The tweet reads, “This alcohol matter at #WorldCup2022 is making brodas very creative. Waaaa look. By any means necessary. Chaiiii.”

Another user @martina64180546 has also posted the picture with “Qatar World Cup”  as its caption.

Even though the users did not attribute the photo to an incident that had happened in QATAR, the inclusion of #WorldCup2022 might make a user accept as accurate that the incident occurred in the ongoing World. Due to this, DUBAWA decided to find the origin of the photo. 


DUBAWA first decided to run a quick Yandex image search on the photo. We found out that the image started making rounds in 2015. 

This was when Customs officials in Saudi Arabia caught a smuggler who tried to sneak alcohol into the country. A news site, Newser, on November 13, 2015, reported the arrest of a smuggler who tried to cross into the Arab state from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 48,000 cans of Heineken beer, all disguised as Pepsi cans. 

Source: Newser

According to the report, an official at the border said, “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.”

Already, alcohol brewing, importation, selling, and consumption are completely banned in Saudi Arabia.

More evident is a video of the incident in a post by the Washington Post on January 31, 2016, on its news website. 


The images of cans of beer disguised as Pepsi did not happen in QATAR, where the 2022 World Cup is ongoing. 

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