Give Bud the Boot from World Cup, Groups Say
Global Resolution Urges FIFA to Eliminate Alcohol Promotion in World Cup Events
Influential medical organizations and grassroots groups from around the world today called on FIFA, the governing body for the World Cup, to get rid of alcohol promotion at World Cup events and on match broadcasts. More than 260 diverse health, youth, sports, and religious groups from 43 nations . endorsed a global resolution urging World Cup organizers to stop undermining the positive values of sport by putting beer ads in front of so many young soccer fans worldwide.
Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer and producer of Budweiser, is one of 15 official partners of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and has prominent visibility at World Cup venues. It sponsors the Man of the Match award for each game, sells its beer at matches, and advertises extensively on broadcasts of World Cup matches. According to Anheuser-Busch executives, its sports marketing activities are intended to make their beer “part of the fabric of the game.”
“It’s time to break the tie between alcohol marketing and high-profile sporting events,” said George A. Hacker, Director of Alcohol Policies at the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and a member of the board of directors of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA). CSPI organized the resolution effort. “FIFA is now on notice that there is widespread opposition to Budweiser’s hijacking the values of sports to promote drinking to hundreds of millions of fans, including young children, around the world.”
According to FIFA, in 2002 a cumulative audience exceeding 28.8 billion viewers watched more than 41,100 hours of dedicated World Cup television programming over the 25 match days of the event – and 1.1 billion people watched the final match on television.
The resolution calls on FIFA to examine the role of marketing alcoholic beverages in the World Cup for “consistency with the values of sport, health, and fair play represented by international sports competition.” It is available in several languages including French, Spanish, German, Portugese, Italian, and Thai.
Four percent of the burden of disease and 3.2 percent of all deaths globally are attributed to alcohol, and alcohol is the foremost risk to health in low-mortality countries and the third in developed countries, according to The World Health Report 2002. The 58th World Health Assembly resolved that harmful drinking is among the leading underlying causes of disease, injury, domestic violence against women and children, disability, social problems and premature deaths; is associated with mental ill-health; has a serious impact on human welfare affecting individuals, families, communities and society as a whole; and contributes to health inequities.
“Advertising alcoholic beverages at the World Cup, perhaps the premier global family event, is totally unacceptable,” said J. Edward Hill, M.D., American Medical Association Immediate Past President. “We know exposure to television advertising for alcoholic beverages increases the likelihood that children will drink and consume alcohol more heavily. Eliminating all alcohol advertising and marketing at all future World Cup tournaments would demonstrate a commitment to promoting the health of youth and sports fans worldwide.”
The 264 signers of the resolution represent a diverse array of health, youth, sports, drug control, and religious organizations worldwide – ranging from such groups as the World Medical Association, the National Federation of Youth Organizations in Bangladesh, the National Youth Council of Ireland, and the National Drug Abuse Control Council in Belize to the American Medical Association, the Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine in Ankara Turkey, and the Qatar National Anti-Doping Committee of the Qatar National Olympic Committee. Thailand contributed 86 organizational endorsers, in an effort spearheaded by Stopdrink.com, a project of the ThaiHealth Promotion Foundation.
Spokespersons from around the world urged FIFA to eliminate alcohol promotion from the World Cup:
Dr. Franklin Alcaraz Del C. of Centro Latinoamerico de Investigación Cientifica (CELIN), a research organization in Bolivia: “CELIN supports sports activities as alternatives to drug consumption, therefore CELIN thinks that the World Cup with no alcohol, should be the best example to follow.” Valerio Leonardo, executive director of AMOPROC, an alcohol-prevention group in Mozambique: “Alcohol-related accidents, crimes, and abuse of women and children fill our police stations and hospital clinics. Too often, what little money that’s available for bread goes for alcohol instead, leading to impoverishment, dependency, even HIV/AIDS. Beer promotion in the World Cup violates our principles of peace and human rights.”
Luciana Michelin, coordinator of Gruppi di Solidarieta in Italy: “Children are massively over-exposed to advertising and promotion for alcoholic beverages. Sensible values and a profound respect for young people’s futures dictate that the world’s most popular sporting event should end its alcohol sponsorship.”
Ahmadou Kane, coordinator of Association des Jeunes pour le Developpement AJD/PASTEEF in Senegal: “We are a youth association that promotes public health and education, which makes this campaign of the highest concern to us; all the more so because young people are the target of this mass-advertising of alcohol.”
“ANPA is proud that France blocked beer advertising in the World Cup four years ago, because French law prohibits the advertising of alcoholic beverages,” said Claude Riviere, European Affairs Officer of the Association Nationale de Prevéntion en Alcoologie et Addictologie. “The law was upheld by the European Court of Justice, which ratified the restriction on trade as a valid exercise of national authority to protect public health from advertising intended to increase alcohol consumption.”
In India, Dr. S. Arul Rhaj, Vice President of the Commonwealth Medical Association: “In a developing country health is the foundation upon which the wealth of the nation is built and strengthened. Alcohol is harmful to you, your family, and society. It damages your health, wealth, mind, and peace.” Dr. Hariharan of the Indian Alcohol Policy Alliance: “Alcohol consumption in the west has reached a very high level and it would be troublesome if countries like India and China follow on that path. The drinks industry sees both countries as emerging and promising markets for expansion.”
Derek Rutherford, Chairman of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA): “The most insidious form of alcohol advertising is sports sponsorship. It reveals industry self-regulation of advertising as a complete sham. The industry is aware that sports is a cheap method for them to reach the young in all parts of the globe in order to recruit new drinkers. The association of alcohol with sport is a mismatch.”
Dr. Joe Barry, former president of the Irish Medical Organization: “The World Cup is saturated with advertising and promotion for alcohol brands. It is regrettable that those massive promotional budgets are welcomed by FIFA and given free rein by the Irish Government when this country has such publicly acknowledged problems with alcohol consumption.”
“Through television, on their sporting heroes, and on their own playing fields, young people in New Zealand are bombarded with alcohol marketing messages that reinforce our binge drinking culture,” said Ross Bell, Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation. “If we are to get serious about changing that culture, then we must break the unhealthy relationship between alcohol and sports.”
Hermann Meyer, publisher of alkoholpolitik.ch: “Switzerland and Austria will host the European football championship in two years. The Global Resolution gives us a strong platform to oppose alcohol sponsorship and service at those games. Eliminating alcohol from sports takes on special importance in Switzerland, where sports, alcohol, and young people are too frequently and dangerously linked.”
Dr. Ronaldo Laranjeira, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Brazilian Alcohol Advocacy Project (ACCA): “Brazil is a country where millions of young people look to our football players as heroes and role-models. Our alcohol policies are still in an embryonic stage, and an alcoholic beverage can cost less than a pint of milk. Beer adverts can be watched anytime day or night. It is a great privilege to be part of this movement.”
The resolution represents an extension of CSPI’s on-going Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV, an effort within the United States to reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television sports. As part of that Campaign, 24 percent of the universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association have pledged to support an end to all alcohol advertising on college sports broadcasts in the U.S.
“FIFA touts its responsibility to promote health and points to its elimination in 1986 of tobacco advertising in all its tournaments,” said Hacker. “If FIFA had a genuine concern about promoting health, particularly among the hundreds of millions of its youngest fans, it would give the boot, as soon as possible, to alcohol sponsorship, signage and advertising.” In addition to FIFA, the resolution will be sent to the World Health Organization, and to health and sports ministers around the world. The World Health Organization is currently examining world-wide alcohol issues in preparation for a report to the Sixtieth World Health Assembly in May of 2007.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).