The commentary in the weekly Lancet also condemned what it said was FIFA backpeddling from a ban on smoking in stadiums, as well as allowing smoking related products to carry World Cup branding.

 

In 1982 and 1986 the tournament was sponsored by tobacco giant RJ Reynolds International, but the partnership with tobacco was later cut by FIFA amid growing pressure from the health profession.

 

In 2002 the World Health Organisation gave the football federation an award in recognition for what it said was an exemplary tobacco-free policy.

 

Retreating

 

Medics say several sponsors do
not have a great health record

The commentary in the Lancet, written by public health experts Jeff Collin of the University of Edinburgh and Ross MacKenzie of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, accuses FIFA of retreating on the spirit of that commitment.

 

The two medics say drive to secure multi million-dollar sponsorship deals has allowed the World Cup’s image of health and well-being to become associated with products are linked to alcohol abuse, obesity and other diseases.

 

"The presence among FIFA's current official partners of Budweiser beer, McDonald's and Coca-Cola illustrates the tensions that exist between international sport and health promotion," the editorial says.

 

It continues: "Sponsorship with corporations selling alcohol, fast food or sugary drinks can clearly complicate the health equations of individual sports and events."