World Cup and FA criticised for 'unhealthy' sponsors

LONDON - The FA and Fifa have been criticised by medical experts for agreeing sponsorship deals with fast food, alcoholic and fizzy drinks brands.

An article published this week in The Lancet, the UK's medical journal, questioned the inclusion of Budweiser and McDonalds's as Fifa partners.

The paper, written by Dr Jeff Collin of Edinburgh University and Dr Ross MacKenzie of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is published in advance of a Which? magazine poll.

Over half of people surveyed for the poll said that brands associated with unhealthy foods should not have been allowed to sponsor this year's World Cup.

The Lancet article says: "The presence among Fifa's current official partners of Budweiser beer, McDonald's and Coca-Cola illustrates the tensions that exist between international sport and health promotion.

"This tension highlights the need for sports organisations to reassess their relations with sponsors and for governments to reassess both the scope of existing regulation and the terms of public investment in elite sport."

A McDonald's spokesman said: "We have built up a proud heritage of supporting football, from grassroots level to the glory of international tournaments, for more than 25 years.

"We are focused on encouraging more young people to participate in football by making the game more accessible and appealing to families and youngsters."

The Lancet paper's authors also note that the English Football Association and the 2012 London Olympic Games have McDonald's as one of their official corporate partners.

A spokeswoman for the FA said: "We have worked with McDonald's very successfully over the years as they contribute a great deal to our grassroots football through their coaching development programme and other initiatives."

The government's food watchdog The Food Standards Agency said this week it will tell media regulator Ofcom that its proposals on junk food advertising are not tough enough and that a 9pm watershed ban on such ads is needed.

Disney, which also has a long association with McDonald's, has not renewed its 10-year contract with the fast food giant and has begun branding Tesco fresh fruit in an attempt to distance itself from junk food.

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