Fact CheckSport

Beer cans disguised as Pepsi not related to world cup in Qatar

Claim: A Facebook user alleged that football fans trooping to Qatar for the world cup are smuggling beer into the country by disguising Heineken as Pepsi. 

Verdict: The alleged image with the narrative of smuggled beer into Qatar is false. The actual scenario happened seven years ago in Saudi Arabia, where officials intercepted attempts to smuggle beer disguised as Pepsi into the country. 

Full text

It is chilled for moments! Great for the celebrations! Beer has been an enjoyable part of football for spectators at home and those watching live at the stadium. But the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is unlike any before it. It is the first to be held in the middle east and the first to have a hosting country lose its opening match. 

Interestingly, just two days before the tournament’s first match in the Muslim nation, officials announced that fans wouldn’t be allowed to drink beer at the country’s eight World Cup stadiums, a reversal of a previously announced policy.

Just after the announcement, images of Heineken canned beer disguised as Pepsi started to make rounds on social media and were even published by some news outlets. The narrative suggested that despite the bans on beer in Qatar, some fans are still devising means to smuggle the commodity into Qatar. 

One Nnamdi Abana, who described himself as a Political Scientist and a  graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria, posted the same picture on his Facebook timeline, adding that fans will find another way to smuggle beer since they have been caught via this means.  

A screenshot of Nnamdi Abana’s Facebook post.

“So, what did they do? They decided to shortchange the system by rebranding can beer with Pepsi. Now that they’ve been caught, they may look for another option.” The statement reads.

Igetalk, a blog site that publishes sensational content, featured the story to insinuate that the disguised cans of beer can easily be smuggled into the stadium by the visiting tourist. 

A screenshot of the I get talk report.

“…the beer cans in beverage casing and wrappings will then be smuggled into the stadium in Qatar by the visiting tourists…”

“They would also be sold in the stadium, though there would most likely be a secret channel for doing this. Imagine an unsuspecting visitor buying a can of Coke, only to get a mouthful of Heineken,” the statement reads.

Ubuntu Jacob Navro, a Facebook user, even gave the exact number of the canned beer smuggled into Qatar by football fans; in a Facebook post he made, Jacob said over 800,000 was the number of beers intercepted in Qatar. 

A screenshot of Ubantu Jacob’s Facebook post.

“Customs at Qatar has intercepted over 800,000 cans of Heineken branded as Pepsi this morning 🍻Who no like enjoyment 😃😃😃, this Qatar Heineken pass Navrongo beers 🍻” the post reads.

The world cup is already in its first week, and against all odds and controversies, Qatar has brought the competition home. As fans around the world enjoy the competition, it is essential to verify lingering claims that have a potential impact on the competition. 


DUBAWA first conducted a forensics analysis to verify if this was real and not doctored. Results from Forensically, an online tool that offers image verification, reveal the acclaimed image is actual and not doctored in any way. 

After that, DUBAWA carried out a Google reverse image search to uncover the source of the image. Results show an image of the Heineken canned beer disguised as Pepsi that has been circulating since 2015.

In 2015, The Telegraph published a news story headlined: 

Smugglers attempt to enter Saudi Arabia with 48,000 beer cans disguised as Pepsi.”

The same story was published in Morocco World News with the caption: 

“Saudi Arabia Seizes 48,000 Cans of Heineken Beer Disguised as Pepsi”

Both levels featured the acclaimed picture used to paint a scenario in Qatar.

A screenshot of a report by the Telegraph.

 The real story

In 2015, Police in Saudi Arabia confiscated over 48,000 Heineken beer smuggled into the country disguised as Pepsi-Cola cans.

The scenario unfolded at the Al Batha border between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where officials stopped a truck carrying the contraband, based on reports by several Saudi news reports.

“The smuggler tried to enter the goods in an innovative way, as stickers indicating that they were soft drinks “Pepsi” were placed on the “beer” cans, but that attempt failed after it was detected and thwarted by Saudi customs.” The report read.

The batch on the arm of the officer is also that of Saudi Arabia Customs and not that of Qatar. 

Even more, there is no publication in any Qatar news outlets that reported on the acclaimed narrative. The scenario happened seven years ago in Saudi Arabia, not recently in Qatar.  


The alleged image with the narrative of smuggled beer into Qatar is false. The actual scenario happened seven years ago in Saudi Arabia, where officials intercepted attempts to smuggle beer disguised as Pepsi into the country. 

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  1. Thank you for the info, and for fact checking it, but you ought to tell us where the incident of Heneiken being disguised as pepsi took place.

  2. Thanks buddy We for all prayers today too everyone is a wonderful family life beautiful life together words beautiful

  3. Thanks buddy We for all prayers today too my family life is a wonderful family life together life beautiful

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