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31 Aug 2022

Just four of 19 FIFA & World Cup sponsors engaging on risks to migrant workers

With just under 100 days until the FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 kicks off in Doha, most tournament sponsors remain tight-lipped on their human rights policies and processes to protect migrant workers.

Sponsors of the FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 have failed to disclose crucial information about their human rights and recruitment risk management in the run up to the tournament. In May 2022, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre asked sponsors a set of questions about their human rights processes and policies relating to the recruitment of migrant workers in Qatar and in preparation for the tournament. Of the 19 sponsors approached, only four (adidas, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Qatar Airways) responded.

Popular international brands which failed to provide any information included certain FIFA sponsors (Wanda, Hyundai Kia Motor, Visa and QatarEnergy), Qatar World Cup sponsors (Hisense, McDonald’s, Vivo, Mengniu, Crypto and BYJU’s) and regional sponsors (GWC, UPL, Ooredoo, The Look Company and Algorand). 

Some sponsors, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, have longstanding operations in the Gulf, while World Cup staple brand Budweiser is establishing operations in Doha just for the tournament. Regardless, all sponsors should undertake human rights due diligence in line with international standards on the risks of operating in a region with one of the worst labour rights records in the world.

  • Coca-Cola is the only tournament sponsor to make a public statement on migrant workers to date.
  • Only four out of seven FIFA Partners – adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai Kia Motor and Visa - and two out of seven Qatar World Cup sponsors – Budweiser and McDonald’s - have published human rights policies.
  • None of the responses from Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Qatar Airways gave detail on due diligence. For example, not one disclosed data on payment of recruitment fees by migrant workers or outlined whether workers are interviewed to mitigate against risk of fee-payment.
  • Only adidas – which does not have operations in Qatar although it distributes goods there – engaged with our questions.
  • McDonald’s did not respond to our questions despite operating in all six Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Isobel Archer, Gulf Programme Manager, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said: “It’s disappointing that at a time when football teams and fans are beginning to sit up and take note of Qatar’s poor record on workers’ rights, sponsors continue to be largely disengaged. Companies which have been awarded sponsorship deals should, at an absolute minimum, recognise this comes with human rights responsibilities – broad platitudes about conducting business in a socially responsible manner are not enough. While three of the five FIFA sponsors have taken the important first step of having publicly available human rights policies, this is the bare minimum in a process of actively addressing human rights issues.

“In a region where migrant workers continue to face well-documented risks during recruitment and employment, FIFA and World Cup sponsors have a responsibility to operationalise human rights standards. The lack of transparent information we’ve received and the failure of brands to adequately demonstrate any satisfactory steps towards assessing risk to workers and establishing safeguards is extremely alarming. These are big name brands who should not remain silent.

“Like all for-profit entities, sponsors are subject to the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights through their business relationships. They must recognise their role in holding to account the sporting associations, brands and clubs they choose to partner with when they fall short on human and workers’ rights standards.”


Note to editors:

Media contact: Priyanka Mogul (London-based), Media Officer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, +44 (0) 7880 956239, [email protected].