Study questions Fifa's health promotion and fast-food links

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The Independent Football

The tensions which exist between health promotion and global sport were highlighted in a study yesterday which accused Fifa of campaigning for good health while accepting sponsorship from a fast food giant, a fizzy drinks maker and a major brewer.

The authors of the study in the medical journal The Lancet questioned how such a huge sporting event can promote health, while giving a marketing platform to McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Budweiser.

Jeff Collin, of Edinburgh University's Centre for International Public Health Policy, and Ross MacKenzie, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also pointed out that Fifa, the FA and the 2012 London Olympic Games have McDonald's as one of their official corporate partners. Given the significance of obesity as a health problem, they claim such associations are highly questionable. Dr Collin states: "The 2012 Olympics will require over £2.3bn in public investment, an undertaking justified in part via the claim to provide a legacy for health.

"The Games aim to inspire 'a new generation to greater sporting activity and achievement, helping foster a healthy and active nation', an ambition we find difficult to reconcile with the presence of McDonald's and Coca-Cola as official sponsors."

The study also said that Fifa, which won an anti-tobacco award from the World Health Organisation for the 2002 World Cup, has gone back on a smoking ban in German stadiums.

n German broadcasters have complained through World Cup organisers that their television coverage is being harmed to serve the needs of sponsors.

The TV companies claim that panoramic shots rather than close-ups are preferred because they get sponsors' boards into the picture.

The German broadcasters ZDF, ARD and RTL have registered excellent viewing figures, but they have also received complaints from viewers that they are seeing too much of the turf, seating and advertising.

One German football director said: "The advertising becomes more important than the game and the viewer is the loser.''

A Fifa spokesman said: "There is no marketing background to this. We try to give a uniform broadcast but can't please everyone."

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