Fifa has been doing the dirty work for AnheuserBusch-InBev (ABInBev), the alcohol producer owning the Budweiser brand.
Budweiser is one of the main sponsors of the Fifa World Cup. And Fifa and their main sponsors, including the alcohol industry, are not only exempt from paying any taxes. Fifa and ABInBev also bullied the Brazilian government into changing a law from 2003 that was put in place to deal with alcohol-related violence in and around football stadiums.
The law was a huge success and so the Ministry for Public Health and many Members of Parliament wanted to protect it from Fifa and the alcohol industry. Unfortunately, the law was repealed and the so called Budweiser Bill adopted instead – allowing ABInBev and Fifa to sell alcohol in and around World Cup stadiums.
We’ve been advocating since 2011 to protect the original law. We’ve been building a global alliance to protect Human Rights, public health and social development in Brazil. We’ve been issuing press releases and we’ve been writing numerous articles about the topic.
Exposing Fifa’s hypocrisy
On the one hand Fifa is promoting health in videos with Cristiano Ronaldo and others. The best football player in the world in 2014 chooses to live alcohol free.
But on the other hand, Fifa Secretary-General Valcke was found to claim that alcohol and Fifa World Cup were inseparable.
And now we see what we and so many other public health experts, activists and social justice champions have been talking about:
There’s violence in the stands, by intoxicated spectators.
This reality has apparently shaken up some form of consciousness in Fifa. Secretary-General Valcke could be heard telling Brazilian TV that he was worried about the numbers of spectators intoxicated and the scenes of violence in the stands.
And here comes to really cynical part: Fifa now considers to restrict alcohol sales in the stadiums for security reasons.
That’s what Brazilians moved to do more than 10 years ago already. That’s what the best footballer in the world stands for. But that’s also what Fifa and the alcohol industry have been lobbying aggressively to change and undermine: football and alcohol do not belong together.
Profit over Human Rights
I think this development is a very sad example for what the alcohol industry and its aides (in this case Fifa) are capable of: they are toying with human well-being, for the sake of profit. It’s just so sad that many people have to suffer from such ruthless operations.
I think this development is a very important example for all those dedicated to promote health, well-being and social progress – to not back down from corporate bullying. Reality catches up eventually.
In the frame of one global event we have now documented prove of what the alcohol industry does: distort and ignore evidence in a way that turns out to be grotesque. This Budweiser Bill backfired badly – and it is a lesson to all decision-makers around the world to not trust the alcohol industry.