The choice of Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup drew immediate criticism from sports pundits, fans, sponsors, players, and teams alike when it was first announced in 2010. The region’s questionable human rights record, including its views on women’s rights and the rights of LGBTQ+ community, have continued to make headlines in the passing years despite efforts by Qatar to present itself in a more positive light.
As the tournament kicks off this month, MarketCast set out to understand what football fans thought of these controversies and how they might impact their choice to watch and travel to this year’s tournament. We surveyed more than 2,000 fans across the U.S., Germany, U.K., and Brazil to understand:
- Fan awareness of headlines surrounding the 2022 World Cup and any related concerns.
- How the headlines are impacting fan perceptions of tournament sponsors?
- The impact of negative headlines on audience viewership in the U.S.
- The region’s strict alcohol consumption policies on those traveling to the region?
European fans are the most aware of the headlines surrounding World Cup 2022.
While football fans in every country we surveyed are aware of the major headlines related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar’s record on human rights was the most attention-grabbing and concerning among our survey respondents in Germany and the United Kingdom. Subsequently, this leads many fans in these regions to view the tournament more negatively.
If travel and cost were not a factor, nearly half of German and UK fans would still choose not to attend the World Cup in person.
Given the tournament’s first-ever winter schedule, its track record for human rights, as well as the region’s strict rules for alcohol consumption (something many football fans really enjoy), close to half of the German and U.K. fans surveyed indicated they would not attend the 2022 World Cup if given a chance, even if the cost of attendance and travel was not a factor. By contrast, only 23% of fans in the U.S. and 11% in Brazil would not attend.
However, most fans still plan to follow and watch the matches from afar.
Most football fans still plan to watch the tournament from the comfort of their own homes, where they can presumably enjoy a Budweiser, the tournament’s official beer sponsor, with no restrictions. In fact, more than 75% of all fans surveyed said they still plan to follow the tournament with the same engagement as they would any other World Cup. This should be welcome news for Fox and Telemundo, and their respective advertisers and sponsors, given the direct competition with other sports leagues, such as the NFL, the NBA, and NCAA Football.
Likewise, the headlines and controversies have not significantly impacted U.S. fan views about tournament and national team sponsors.
Fans in the U.S. and Brazil still plan to consciously support 2022 World Cup partners by purchasing their products or services, according to our survey. Additionally, most fans across all four countries surveyed do not feel concerned or have a shifted opinion about the 2022 World Cup National Team Sponsors. This conscious support and the reassurance of continued fan viewership should help put event sponsors and advertisers at ease.
To find out more about our 2022 World Cup 2022 Advertiser and Brand Sponsor Report, click here.