The World Cup and the Middle East, in general, have faced many growing pains, from human rights concerns to social and political conflict. Sponsors are faced with navigating these issues, as only they can truly understand the implications of problems back home.
Qatar’s victory will likely draw controversy because of the country’s poor human rights record. Also, environmental policies and a long-standing reputation as a hub for terrorism.
The gas-rich nation beat stiff competition from the United States to host the showpiece tournament, a compelling and controversial coup.
It’s been 12 years since former Fifa president Sepp Blatter drew the name of Qatar out of an envelope. And now, a new controversial World Cup is on the horizon: the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Qatar has promised to put on a show, with more than $200bn investments in building seven new stadiums and a new metro system. Also, roads, a new airport, and other major development projects.
But there are still many questions about how a country that has failed to qualify for previous tournaments can host the World Cup.
Blatter has faced allegations of wrongdoing for years. Qatar denies these allegations, but more than half the people who voted for the 2022 World Cup are accused of misconduct.
With the spotlight on Miami Dolphins’ owner’s protesting of the American Proud pre-game show, multiple companies. Even some football federations are taking steps to distance their brands from the event.
The Danish team, known as The Red Devils, decided to release a black kit in protest against Qatar’s human rights record.
As chairman of the US World Class Events tourism agency, Amar Singh is arguably one of the most influential voices in his field. Amar predicts Qatar 2022 could be a powder keg for socially-charged conversations and issues.
“I think we’ll see a lot of explosive activity in the coming weeks,” Gazan-based political analyst Ghassan Khatib told Middle East Eye. “Hummel is to expect right now, but he will only be the start. I think we’ll see more overt involvement and more serious show of support.”
Singh notes that one of the changes in sports marketing is the relationship between fans and brands. Also, something which has changed over time.
The World Cup has brought out a new energy and drive for marketing. That is why the 2018 High Authority Content Marketing Awards are dedicated to this cause-driven movement.
With the growth of marketing around shared values, it’s no wonder that 86% of global fans are interested in different causes. MKTG’s Decoding survey found that by 2020, 42% were interested, but this year, boom – 86%
Singh says that global market changes over the last few years have driven the shift related to employment.
“Climate activism has gained momentum this year in response to the Covid pandemic. Spurred on by protests such as the murder of George Floyd. These events illustrate how human beings are so interconnected and vulnerable to threats. Also, have a great potential for change.”
It’s been interesting to see how digital habits continue to evolve. Everything is moving faster, and more people are engaged digitally. The noise is louder on social media, so brands need to be able to show that they’re making the world a better place by supporting their fans.
From an organizational health perspective, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) new leadership will implement short- and long-term changes.
In addition, the issues around human rights that have been a distraction for the last few months will address this change.
A report published by Human Rights Watch in 2021 described migrant workers’ continued struggles. The report indicated that migrant workers suffered “punitive and illegal wage deductions.” Alos,” months of unpaid wages for long hours of grueling work.”
Qatar has announced that they’re taking legal steps to ensure that work-related abuses are not happening in their country. They will strengthen the criminal code and protections for workers so that they can’t be taken advantage of by employers.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wrote to Fifa’s 14 corporate partners in July. They urged them to provide compensation and other remedies to migrant workers oppressed by exploitation.
A Guatemala lawmakers team issued an open letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino demanding at least $4.4 billion. The same amount provided for qualifying teams for the 2014 World Cup – be made available for use as a different kind of compensation scheme.
The response to the call for action was swift, as headlines suddenly flared with talk of sponsors joining in to support the cause.
While statements from Adidas and Coca-Cola had been circulating since the #MeToo movement began. Also, AB InBev made a public statement supporting the proposed compensation on September 12th.
With the World Cup coming up in 2022, Singh warns brands involved in the tournament to take extra precautions so that their brand messages stay relevant.
Have a proactive approach, not reactive. Know where you stand on LGBTQ+ issues and racial equality. Understand what’s happening with migrant workers and their rights; how have you worked with Fifa on the ground?
“People don’t just want your message; they want to know what you’re doing back to it. Make sure that’s authentic action as well.”
Unfortunately, too many companies need a connection on what they stand for. As the company founder of Crayon Brand outlines, “If you’re a major brand and you say, ‘you know what? We stand for racial equality, but your board is entirely made up of white males; people will call you out. If you’re one of those companies that has a disconnect somewhere, it’s probably this.”
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