World Cup in Qatar: vzbv sends written warning to FIFA over greenwashing

Misleading promotional claims about the supposedly carbon-neutral World Cup

  • vzbv has issued football’s international governing body FIFA with a written warning over misleading claims about the World Cup in Qatar.
  • vzbv: claims such as “fully carbon-neutral tournament” or “low-emission transportation” mislead consumers.
  • vzbv Executive Director Pop: “FIFA’s greenwashing deserves a red card.”
Eine Hand hält eine rote Karte hoch. Im Hintergrund sieht man ein Fußballstadion.

Credit: by-studio / AdobeStock.de

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv) has sent a written warning to football’s international governing body FIFA. The consumer protection organisation believes that several promotional claims about the supposedly “carbon-neutral” World Cup mislead consumers. The specific claims made in German include references to a “fully carbon-neutral tournament”, “low-emission transportation” as well as the claim that any remaining, unavoidable emissions will be “offset”.

“FIFA is trying to sell a large-scale event held in the desert as a model climate project. This greenwashing deserves a red card. In our view, it is impossible to organise a fully carbon-neutral World Cup. FIFA’s greenwashing changes this in no way,” says vzbv Executive Director Ramona Pop.

Several misleading claims

The consumer protection organisation calls on FIFA to drop several misleading promotional claims on its website in connection with the World Cup ticket shop. vzbv sees insufficient evidence for claims such as “fully carbon-neutral FIFA tournament”, “energy-efficient stadiums”, “low-emission transportation” and “sustainable waste management”.

The environmental claims are stated in German, however further details are only available in English or Arabic. For this reason, vzbv believes that FIFA does not provide evidence for its promotional claims, which amounts to a misleading omission.

Non-transparent and unverifiable claims

vzbv also considers the statement that remaining, unavoidable emissions will be offset to ensure a fully carbon-neutral event to be misleading. It gives consumers the impression of a noteworthy commitment to environmental protection. This is, however, factually impossible; in addition, the claims about compensation are neither transparent nor verifiable.

Climate protection influences purchasing decisions

Ramona Pop: “Climate change has made sustainability and environmental protection an important factor in the purchasing decisions of many consumers. Promotional claims about the environment thus have a strong emotional impact. When a company consciously promotes such aspects, the statements must be true and clearly explained. As FIFA fails to do this, we have to blow the whistle on their approach.”

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