brands world cup

These five ‘LGBTQ+ friendly’ brands are also sponsoring the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

This is horrific

The World Cup can be a wonderful thing. It often brings football fans, casual fans and absolute non-fans together in one big, UK-wide bonding session. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t sitting on the sofa, on a sticky summer’s day in 2018, drinking a pint (or cocktail, or mocktail) with eyes glued to the telly, eagerly watching to see if we were going to bring it home this time.

But this year, the major event has been marred by boycotts, greedy celebrities and hypocritical brands. This is because Fifa chose to hold the belated World Cup in Qatar, which has some of the strictest, most ardently anti-LGBTQ+ laws in existence. This brilliant video by Joe Lycett explains it incredibly well – “homosexuality is illegal, punishable by imprisonment and, if you’re Muslim, possibly even death.”

One of the most pressing issues is this: Brands shouldn’t be allowed to cover themselves in rainbows during Pride Month, while sponsoring a worldwide event being held in an anti-queer country. The double-standard is appalling, at BEST.

At worst, it’s a display of how much some brands seem to treat queer issues as cynical marketing tools; rather than actual injustices of human rights. Which is definitely not the case, right?

So, these are the five brands sponsoring the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, after rainbowing everything up in Pride Month:

1. Adidas

In June 2022, Adidas launched their very first “Pride Collection,” collaborating with queer artists from around the world; as well as partnering with Tom Daly.  In a press release, they stated the collection and adjacent content series were all about “a continued celebration of the love that connects the world… helping to spread a message of empowerment and support for the LGBTQIA+ community across Pride Month 2022.” Even now, you can still sport some Adidas gender-neutral rainbow t-shirts, if you feel so inclined.

Fast forward just five months later, and the brand was announced as one of the biggest sponsors of this year’s World Cup. Weirdly enough, it even has its own line of Fifa-official merch – right next to June’s rainbowashed collection, supposedly celebrating love and empowerment. Nice one.

2. Coca-Cola

brands world cup

Photo via Coca-Cola

No-one’s profited more from the promotion of Pride than Coca-Cola. From keyrings to stickers, bottles and even NFTs; the drink manufacturer is often one of the first major brands to roll out the rainbow flag on 1st June every year.

That being said, Coca-Cola donated proceeds from their NFT range to LGBTQ+ charities. It prides itself on being “one of the world’s most inclusive brands,” consistently committing to improve “diversity, inclusion and equality.” This makes the decision to officially sponsor the World Cup in Qatar even more disappointing.

Coca-Cola’s World Cup campaign attempts to drive home the message that “believing is magic.” Though not, I imagine, if you’re anything other than straight and cis.

3. McDonald’s

brands world cup

Photo via McDonald’s

On the first day of Pride Month, earlier this year, McDonald’s’ corporate website stated it upholds LGBTQ+ inclusion “throughout the year. After all, our values hinge on integrity, meaning we open our doors to everyone and we do the right thing.”

So, why, in that case, is the company putting so much money into an event held in one of the most dangerously anti-LGBTQ+ countries in the world? McDonald’s is another one of the biggest brands sponsoring the World Cup. Five months on from rainbow fries and performative showboating; McDonald’s has given Qatar’s World Cup its own line of merch, as well as an official “McQatar” burger in the Middle East.

4. Budweiser


Photo via Budweiser

None of these brands have exactly been on the money when it comes to tasteful, uncynical Pride advertising. But Budweiser in particular has managed to catch a lot of criticism over the years.

From the genderfluid pint glass to its weird explanation of the Trans flag (“pink is for femininity, blue is for masculinity”), a lot of people just wish the brand would be quiet.

This year, however, instead of clumsily trying to appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, Budweiser has just gone, “ah, fuck it,” and funded a sporting event in an anti-LGBTQ+ country instead. Odd choice too, seeing as it’s also against the law to drink alcohol in public there (say, at a football game) but money talks, I guess.

5. Hyundai

This one makes me feel physically sick. In April 2021, Hyundai was one of the official sponsors of the GLAAD awards, and it started a HUGE LGBTQ-friendly campaign in support of it. The brand also produced and fronted a short film, Chosen Family, which premiered at the awards.

Now, Hyundai is one of the 2022 World Cup’s most famous sponsors. To go from such a safe, inclusive space to a country in which being queer carries a death sentence… it’s unthinkable.

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