Updated 27 October 2015

World Cup sponsorship hypocrisy

As the World Cup football tournament in Germany reaches half-time, more voices are raised questioning McDonalds, Budweiser and Coca Cola’s presence amongst the sponsors of an event that,at some level, is intended to encourage sporting participation.

0 published its views on the conspicuous lack of healthy foods and sports nutrition products on June 12 in an article that drew an inbox full of feedback in agreement.

But what measures could be taken to ensure that future sporting events send out a healthier message?

Government's responsibility

Writing in The Lancet, Jeff Collin and Ross MacKenzie of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Health in Social Science said that the responsibility lies with governments to reassess the scope of existing regulation governing sponsorship in sporting events, and the terms of public investment in elite sport.

They pointed out that investment in sporting infrastructure is justified in terms of the benefits to public health, but said that the message is complicated by sponsorships with companies selling alcohol, fast food and sugary drinks.

“Even if expanded regulation of sponsorship is currently deemed inappropriate, governments should examine such broader effects and attach health-promoting conditions to public funding of sports,” they wrote.

For consumer watchdog Which?, the answer may lie further down the chain. Chief policy advisor Sue Davies called on the UK Office of Communications (Offcom) to step in to prevent advertisements for unhealthy food being seen by children.

“The summer of sport could be the perfect opportunity to get kids into physical activity and health eating,” said Which? chief policy advisor Sue Davies, “but it sends very mixed messages when fast food companies pay millions to sponsor high-profile events like the World Cup”.

She added: “Both food companies and FIFA have a duty to promote sport responsibly. Which? is calling on Offcom to use its power to regulate so that these messages can not be shown during ad breaks when children are watching TV.”

Consumers express concern

A survey conducted by Which? indicated that it is not only the professionals that are questioning the message being propagated by World Cup sponsorship.

In a telephone survey conducted by Which? in early May, adult consumers also expressed their concern. Fifty-four percent of the 1001 adults interviewed agreed that brands associated with unhealthy food should not have been allowed to sponsor this year’s World Cup, and 36 percent strongly agreed.

Source: Decision News Media

Read more:

World Cup loses to junk food

Experts slam SWC junk food sponsors


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