People from all over the world watched the just concluded 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
But while they watch the game, the names of some of the biggest companies in the world flash behind them in a technicolor loop: Budweiser, Visa, Coca-Cola, Qatar Airways, Adidas, McDonald’s, Wanda, Vivo, and Hyundai Kia.
But Qatar 2022 World Cup is different. Many of these brands are caught in the geopolitical crossfire of this tournament, especially those with roots in the West. They need to figure out how to balance their sponsorship with criticisms of FIFA, the world soccer body, and Qatar, the host country, especially about human rights.
Even if it did, the amount of money FIFA makes wouldn’t change.
Friday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told reporters that business deals related to the 2022 World Cup had raised a record $7.5 billion for the organization. This is $1 billion more than it made from the 2018 World Cup.
Infantino thinks that the World Cup in the United States, Mexico, and Canada in 2026 will bring in $11 billion over the next four years.
Companies aren’t the only ones who have made the World Cup part of their “brand.”
Some former players, like Tim Cahill, Cafu, Samuel Eto’o, and Xavi, have agreed to be ambassadors for the tournament.
David Beckham’s role as an ambassador for the tournament has been criticized the most. People have warned him that this could hurt his reputation.
Beckham’s name is just as well-known as the names of many big companies. Beckham also works as a representative for Qatar. He also works for Adidas, the watch company Tudor, and the Haig Club brand of whiskey he owns. Beckham also owns part of the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Inter Miami. Big global brands
Since 2010, when Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup, people have been paying attention to its human rights record. This includes the deaths of migrant workers and how they have to live, as well as the rights of LGBTQ people and women.
Most of the criticism of FIFA and Qatar comes from North America and Western Europe, where it is easier to do so. Still, only a few of the tournament sponsors live in these places.
People all over the world buy brands like Adidas or McDonald’s that come from these countries. So people can criticize different things about human rights in different ways.
Some sponsors left after the corruption scandal in 2015, which sped up FIFA’s move toward businesses outside of Western Europe and North America. However, Peppi says that it also shows that Asian consumer brands are getting better known worldwide.
Top sponsors of FIFA include the Chinese company Wanda, Qatar Airways, and Qatar Energy. People will likely have different problems with how they see these brands as they do with Western brands.
2022 World Cup sponsors have gone mute
On the other hand, some brands have talked about human rights issues with Qatar 2022. For example, Hummel, the company that makes Denmark’s uniforms, gave the team “toned down” uniforms after it was said that human rights were being broken in Qatar. But FIFA told the Danish team that these shirts couldn’t be worn to the World Cup.
Also, the German supermarket chain Rewe broke up with the German Football Association after FIFA punished players who wore “OneLove” armbands to show they supported everyone.
But besides these examples, which were mostly used by sponsors of national teams and not by sponsors of tournaments, Companies haven’t said much about this month-long competition, which is one of the biggest and most profitable sports events.
FIFA divides tournament sponsors into three groups: “partners,” which include Coca-Cola, Adidas, Visa, Wanda, Qatar Airways, Qatar Energy, and Hyundai Kia; “World Cup sponsors,” which include Budweiser, McDonald’s, Mengniu Dairy, and Hisense; and “regional supporters.”
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Fair Square wrote to FIFA’s 14 corporate partners and World Cup sponsors in July, asking them to tell FIFA to stop mistreating migrant workers who were helping get ready for the World Cup.
It is hard to say how many migrant workers died while working on projects for the tournament.
The Guardian said last year that 6,500 South Asian migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won the 2022 World Cup bid in 2010. Most of these people were doing dangerous work that didn’t pay well and was often done in very hot weather.
CNN hasn’t been able to independently confirm that all 6,500 deaths were caused by building World Cup infrastructure.
Al-Thawadi said that three migrant workers who were building stadiums for the World Cup had died in accidents. Also, 37 more workers died of things other than their jobs.
Amnesty says that four sponsors, AB InBev/Budweiser, Adidas, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s, have said they support giving money to migrant workers and their families who died, got hurt, had their wages stolen, or went into debt because they were hired illegally to work on the tournament.
Amnesty says that the other 10 did not answer written requests to talk about abuses related to the tournament.