Swedish lottery and gambling operator Svenska Spel issued a statement to defend its decision to continue to sponsor the national football team of Sweden ahead of the launch of the first round of qualifying games for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Sponsorship Commitment Confirmed
The statement written by sustainability manager Kajsa Nylander at Svenska Spel outlined the determination of the operator to sustain its commitment as the main sponsor for the Swedish national football team in case it qualifies for the finals in the Asian country.
The response from the lottery and gaming operator appeared as a response to some media critics against the company with regards to human rights issues in the country hosting the tournament, Qatar.
Swedwatch, an independent non-profit research organization in Sweden, released an article in which urged the operator to seriously consider whether to uphold its sponsorship for the tournament hosted in a country where “severe human rights violations” against migrant workers working in construction for the stadiums, hotels and training facilities for the 2022 World Cup take place.
Svenska Spel, which has been sponsoring the Swedish football national team for decades, reiterated its plans to continue to do so in the joint statement by Nylander and sponsorship manager Nicklas Biverstahl, albeit acknowledging that the decision to hold the tournament in Qatar was controversial due to the country’s lack of respect for human rights.
Initiate Change Instead of Boycotting
Both managers expressed the operator’s position to consider the upcoming tournament as an opportunity to raise awareness regarding existing human rights issues in Qatar, instead of choosing the easier path of boycotting the competition.
Despite many people believing a boycott is the most reasonable choice, Nylander and Biverstahl continued, Svenska Spel does not “advocate general demands for a boycott” and, if Sweden qualifies, believes the Football Association should be there to initiate long-term change from within, as for Qatar, so for future FIFA decisions regarding the selection of hosts for such competitions.
“So, even if in this case we regret the choice of host country, our ambition is to do what we can to contribute to long-term social improvement. We believe this is a better choice than a boycott.”Kajsa Nylander, Sustainability Manager, Nicklas Biverstahl, Sponsorship Manager, Svenska Spel
Football is not the sole sport being sponsored by state-owned lottery and gambling operator Svenska Spel after a deal worth SEK125 million in February struck with the Swedish Ski Association, Skidförbundet, made the gambling company its primary sponsor for 5 years.