“If McDonald’s cattle lived in these conditions we wouldn’t buy their burgers.”
This was the dramatic statement made by British Conservative MP, Damian Collins at a media conference in London during the week to launch a campaign to get change at the world governing body of football, FIFA.
Why should we care?
If your family values sport – regardless of the sport – then this is an issue that matters.
If we want our children to understand and love sport with the right values - of fairness, integrity, discipline, teamwork, respect and the true spirit of competition - then sport being run at the highest standards of transparency and accountability is an issue that matters to individuals, families and communities. Currently, it's run by someone who, in the words of Foreign Policy magazine, would "make a Congolese kleptocrat blush."
A friend of mine makes the point that, next to family, the two most pervasive cultural influences on children are music and sport. The difference between the two is that music is seldom enjoyed between generations – a grandparent, parent and child seldom have the same musical taste. But enjoyment of sport, and support of a team, is something that is intergenerational and is part of the ‘glue’ that binds families. I wrote about this notion in my own family in my first article for Motherpedia.
The campaign to which Damian Collins referred is a collaborative effort between the International Trade Union Confederation, Playfair Qatar, SKINS Pure Sport as the first Official Non-Sponsor of FIFA and a coalition of people of which I am a participant, #NewFIFANow.
What are the aims?
The long-term aim is to get systemic reform at FIFA, an organisation plagued by serial allegations of corruption and mismanagement which embarrasses so many of fans around the world who love the game.
The short-term aim is to exert pressure on the eight major sponsors of FIFA to use their influence to get some positive change to help the migrant workers employed in Qatar who are building infrastructure and facilities to stage the 2022 World Cup. They work under a system known as kafala. You can read more about it here.
- On the one hand, the likes of adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, VISA and Gazprom espouse a code of business conduct that requires the highest standards of transparency and accountability in its business dealings. On the other hand, they give large sums of money to FIFA.
- On the one hand, brands such as Budweiser, Kia and McDonald’s have grand statements in their corporate values about the importance of workplace standards and a commitment to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. On the other hand, they give large sums of money to FIFA which (a) made a decision to place the 2022 World Cup in a country that has a state-sponsored system of kafala and (b) compounds that decision with an unwillingness and inability to do anything about it.
Who buys sponsor products?
We do. And brand power counts. And especially mum brand power.
What #NewFIFANow, Playfair Qatar, the ITUC and SKINS are advocating is to let the sponsors know that, as parents whose children love and play sport, we want them to do something about their hypocritical stance.
Either the sponsors have values that they stand for and which mean something – or they don’t. Either they put pressure on FIFA to reform – or they stand condemned.
The sponsors can do much to reform FIFA. And we can do much to get the sponsors moving.
The globally recognised logos of the eight sponsors being targeted are below.
Standing-up for our values in 5 minutes
So here's how to do something positive about getting true values back into the world's most popular sport - probably one played by your son or daughter - and preferably before next Friday when the FIFA Presidential elections are held. It will take about 5 minutes of your time.
1. If you’re unconvinced about the plight of migrant workers in Qatar, check out the first two videos here.
2. Visit the Official Non-Sponsor page as they have automated the email and tweet-sending process to make it simple.
3. If you want to send this to friends or colleagues in other languages, the #NewFIFANow website has provided tweets and an email in six other languages – French, German, Japanese, Indonesian, Portuguese and Spanish. Follow the links or the drop down menu from here.