By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The controversial 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar has come to a thrilling end with a win for Argentina against France in a penalty shoot-out!
By all accounts, the football has been exciting with several shock results along the way and has eclipsed, to some extent, the human rights issues surrounding the organisation and holding of the event.
However, the sponsors of the event have had to react to these issues, in different ways, to protect the value of their brands and prevent them from being tarnished by their association with the negative aspects of the event, including the deaths of migrant workers from South Asia involved in the building of the stadia.
As regards the sponsors of the event, for example, Coca-Cola, one of the top-tier FIFA World Cup sponsors, has been involved in the setting up of the FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board, and has stated:
“…. We continue to work with FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to build on Qatar’s development of a regulatory and remedy framework for the protection of migrant worker rights ….”
Former England National Team Captain, David Beckham, has been criticised for being one of a number of so-called Ambassadors of the Qatar World Cup and is reported to have been paid a fee of £150 million for the privilege. How far his personal brand has been adversely affected by taking on this role is debatable according to sports marketing experts. He has justified his involvement by claiming that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world!
Although human rights have dominated the event, FIFA states that the 2022 Qatar World Cup has attracted a record-breaking world television audience, and it is also reported that FIFA has earned a record US$7.5 billion from commercial deals, US$1 billion more than in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
No wonder the FIFA World Cup is regarded as the most valuable piece of intellectual property in world sport, attracting sponsors from around the world whatever the controversies off the pitch!