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Governing Body of World Cup Soccer Puts Tobacco Money Ahead of Health of Malaysian Kids and Families

Statement by Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 29, 2002

Washington, DC — We condemn the decision by FIFA Marketing Ltd., which is controlled by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of world soccer, to allow British American Tobacco to sponsor television coverage of World Cup Soccer in Malaysia. FIFA's decision clearly violates its agreement with the World Health Organization which calls for all tobacco ties to FIFA soccer events to cease beginning with the 2002 men's World Cup competition.

We call on FIFA to change course and rescind the authority of BAT to sponsor the 2002 World Cup broadcast in Malaysia. To do otherwise would send a clear message that FIFA cares more about money from Big Tobacco than it does about the health of children and families in Malaysia.

The association with BAT makes a mockery of FIFA's publicly stated position supporting healthy lifestyles for children and young people. There should be no place at any level of world soccer for an association with Big Tobacco, an industry that causes untold suffering and death in Malaysia and throughout the world. BAT is being allowed to use the world's most popular sport as a vehicle to glamorize and promote tobacco use to Malaysian kids.

As the governing body of soccer and custodian for the integrity of the game, FIFA should immediately prohibit BAT from sponsoring the telecasts of the men's World Cup matches to Malaysian soccer fans. Equally important, FIFA needs to assure the world community that similar situations will not be repeated at next year's women's World Cup.

Later this month FIFA is scheduled to receive the Director General's Award from the World Health Organization and join the WHO in a public ceremony recognizing the opening of the Men's World Cup and World No Tobacco Day. If FIFA does not cancel its agreement with BAT, WHO should cancel the award and withdraw from the ceremony.