LGBTQ+ Ad Organization Calls on Brands to Condemn World Cup Restrictions

Outvertising said soccer is taking 'a step backwards' in Qatar

According to a survey by the U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, almost half (49%) of all adults would respect brands more for speaking out around the Qatar World Cup. That statistic rose to 63% of 18- to 34-year-olds and was higher among men (52%) than women (47%) of all ages.

Following those insights, Outvertising, which represents and supports LGBTQ+ advertising professionals, has described the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup as “a step backwards” for soccer as an inclusive sport due to the tournament being hosted in Qatar.

The organization has called on brands to use their platforms to take a stand against the country’s human rights record, which outlaws same-sex relations.  

The statement comes as planned activism from players and teams participating in the tournament, some of whom were due to wear rainbow-colored OneLove armbands and rainbow colors on their jerseys, have failed to materialize.

To deter such protests, FIFA issued a warning that violators would face disciplinary action within matches, including the issuing of a yellow card.

“As football fans, we would love nothing more than to be able to stick to the football, but we need brands to use their platforms to meaningfully showcase what their true inclusive values mean to themselves, their employees and their consumers,” according to a statement by Outvertising.

Sponsors of the tournament including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Adidas have all issued marketing messages of support to the LGBTQ+ community in the past. However, they have avoided passing specific comment on Qatar’s discriminatory laws.

One brand has made its stance clear, however. Earlier this week, energy drink Lucozade, a longtime sponsor of the England team, pulled its branding from World Cup-related events, meaning it would no longer be seen on bottles during matches, in training sessions or at press conferences during the tournament.

“We continue to support all England teams who celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion,” a statement from Lucozade explained.

Outvertising added: “We ask brand owners and agencies to stand by their LGBTQIA+ inclusive statements from just a few months ago. With the platform you have during the tournament, allyship can be demonstrated and it can be powerful.”

The organization also called on agencies not to force staff to work on campaigns relating to the World Cup. “Employers must ensure employees do not feel outed by any such process,” it said.

Another protest against the World Cup by British comedian Joe Lycett played out on social media this week.

Lycett called out former England soccer captain David Beckham for signing up to act as an ambassador for Qatar in a reported $11 million deal. Lycett highlighted Beckham’s past public support for the LGBTQ+ community and threatened to shred more than $10,000 if the star failed to step down.

Following a weeklong campaign, Beckham declined to respond and flew out to Qatar as World Cup ambassador. This led Lycett to release a video of him apparently shredding a large sum of cash.

However,  he later admitted he had actually donated it to LGBTQ+ charities. The reveal came after the videos of his threat to Beckham racked up millions of views on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, raising awareness of the issue in the process.

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