In this article, you will get all information regarding Sponsors and “anti-sponsors” attacking the Soccer World Cup


This text is taken from the Courrier de l’économie of November 21, 2022. To subscribe, click here.

After Russia, Qatar. Two states that are not exactly among the most progressive on the planet. They are also the last two countries to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup. At this time when multinationals withdraw their advertisements from Twitter for fear of seeing Elon Musk disguise the social network, we would expect to see the sponsors of this sporting event keep a little embarrassment, right?

Especially since, in four years, the next World Cup will take place in North America, where the stakes will be at the other end of the political spectrum. Above all, we risk criticizing the environmental footprint of a tournament that will displace thousands of players, coaches and fans throughout the North American continent for a month…

For FIFA’s sponsors, would it have been possible to skip a turn to take a position on these questions? Without a doubt. But apparently not this time. Because according to projections, the 2022 World Cup could bring FIFA up to 6.4 billion US dollars in advertising revenue, more than the record of 5.4 billion set in Russia in 2018.

Sponsors will also pay more than expected for their presence in Qatar. Beer giant AB-InBev was hoping for good visibility by serving Budweiser in the tournament stadiums. Bud has been a World Cup partner since 1985, and its brewer pays US$75 million every four years to extend the deal.

However, the Qatari authorities would have demanded the closure of these counters. We initially wanted to move them outside, where it will be at least 32°C in the shade in the next few days. Two days before the start of the World Cup, Qatar would have decided to ban all beer sales everywhere on the sites of the event.

Qatar has extremely strict rules limiting the consumption of alcohol to very specific places, which obviously exclude soccer stadiums. FIFA, for its part, seems to have completely lost control of what represents its most important international showcase.

“Anti-sponsorships” on the attack

For beers competing with Budweiser, this is a great opportunity to counterattack. The Scottish brewery BrewDog does not mince its words in its advertisements. She presents herself as an “anti-sponsor” of the World Cup. “First Russia, then Qatar, we can’t wait for North Korea’s turn,” said one of them. “Eat, dream, breathe bribe soccer,” said another.

There is therefore a real risk for official sponsors of seeing their notoriety attacked. Perhaps more this time than in the past, notes Frank Pons, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration at Laval University and director of the International Observatory in Sports Management. “There is more risk this year of a negative backlash for these brands,” he says. “A lot of emphasis has been placed on the issue of Qatar’s respect for human rights and workers’ rights. »

It remains to be seen if we will talk about it during the event, however, qualifies the professor. “Before and after the event, social issues take up a lot of space, but as soon as the competition starts, the focus is on the field and on the results. »

The presence for the first time in 36 years of a Canadian national team will probably make our country vibrate more with patriotism than that with indignation, predicts Frank Pons. “After all, when you love sports, you quickly forget the negative side of these events. »

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