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World Cup health rap over sponsors
16/06/06
World Cup organisers have been criticised in influential medical journal the Lancet for accepting sponsorship from fast food giants, fizzy drinks manufacturers and a major brewer.

The authors questioned how such a huge sporting event can promote health, while giving a marketing platform to McDonalds, 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, highlight in this week's Lancet the tensions which exist between health promotion and global sport.

In a comment piece, they point out 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.

In fact, the organisers are selling branded cigarette lighters and ashtrays, the authors write.

They also note that Fifa, the English Football Association 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, the authors claim such associations are highly questionable. They called on governments and sporting authorities to reassess how they fund the events.

Dr Collin states: "The 2012 London Olympics will require over �2.3 billion 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."

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