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Sponsors rethink Qatar activations in response to human rights issues

(Photo by Igor Kralj/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)

  • Association with Qatar being toned down or excluded completely in some activations
  • Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s, Budweiser take stance on worker rights; others remain silent
  • Some brands are actively tapping into anti-World Cup sentiments
The sports event as a human rights flashpoint is here to stay. The profile of events like the Fifa World Cup and the Olympic Games – a global audience, passionately engaged – makes them the perfect platform to spotlight human rights abuses.

Any idea that this might be restricted to Beijing, host of the winter Olympics earlier this year, or Qatar, host to the 2022 World Cup, is likely to prove misguided. France, whose capital Paris is host of the summer Games in 2024, and North America, home to the World Cup in 2026, will inevitably be embroiled in human rights controversies of some kind. The Amnesty International report on the state of the world’s human rights for 2021-2022 details problems in 153 of the world’s 195 countries.

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