The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

FIFA found guilty of greenwashing

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 7 June 2023
SWISS Football association FIFA claimed that their most recent World Cup was carbon neutral, but the evidence has proven otherwise.
FIFA found guilty of greenwashing
Inside the FIFA headquarters in Hottingen, Switzerland (Credit: FIFA).

(Keystone SDA) Red card for FIFA: Following a complaint by the Association Avocat-es pour le Climat on behalf of Climate Alliance in November 2022, the Swiss Integrity Commission found that FIFA’s claims about the CO2 neutrality of the World Cup in Qatar were misleading.

Why Swiss cities have banned World Cup viewings

More on the complaint

In November 2022, complaints from Switzerland, the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands were filed against FIFA for unfair competition. The suing associations were amazed that FIFA was able to advertise a “CO2-neutral World Cup.” The six associations, including the Klima-Allianz (Switzerland) or Notre Affaire à tous (France), relied on a report by the NGO Carbon Market Watch (Belgium, also plaintiff), according to which the claims of the tournament organizers about CO2 neutrality far be understated.

Shuttle flights & stadium construction not included FIFA did not take into account the impact of the shuttle flights when calculating its carbon emissions. 500 flights per day allowed fans to connect their hotels in Dubai, Riyadh or Kuwait with Qatar. FIFA had also barely taken into account the CO2 emissions caused by the construction of the seven football stadiums built for the event.

Swiss FIFA President back in court

In a decision served on the parties on June 6, 2023, the Swiss Fair Trading Commission dismissed FIFA’s objections, stating clearly that “[FIFA] has sometimes worked with messages formulated in absolute terms, thereby giving the wrong and misleading impression that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would be carbon neutral or carbon neutral before and during the tournament.”

The commission considered that FIFA had not “proved credibly how CO2 emissions caused by the tournament can be compensated according to Swiss standards.” FIFA is therefore asked to “refrain from making the controversial claims in the future, in particular that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be carbon neutral and C02 neutral.”

FIFA found guilty of greenwashing
From start to finish, aspects of the 2022 FIFA World Cup were controversial.
Strong message against greenwashing

“This is an important decision! It is a strong message to all companies that want to do greenwashing,” says lawyer Quentin Cuendet, member of Avocat-es pour le Climat, the association that drafted the Swiss lawsuit.

“This victory is just the beginning,” adds Arnaud Nussbaumer, chairman of the association, “the climate battles are numerous, we have considerable resources and support to lead them.”

Christian Lüthi, Managing Director of the Swiss Climate Alliance, adds: “Even if the damage to the environment has already been done, the judgment is an important signal for the future. Companies and organizations like FIFA can no longer avoid dealing with their actual to deal with the climate footprint.

Now action must follow, The Swiss Integrity Commission highlighted FIFA’s misleading advertising and found that it violated the federal law on unfair competition, which could constitute a criminal offence. FIFA can still appeal against the decision due to arbitrariness.

This article was re-printed with permission from Keystone SDA.

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