'The hunger games' - Mastercard slated for 'goals-for-meals' campaign

Mastercard has been heavily criticised for a campaign that promises to donate 10,000 meals to children in Latin America and the Caribbean every time football stars Lionel Messi or Neymar Jr score until 2020.

This article was updated on Sunday afternoon with a comment from Mastercard.

Mastercard is publicising the campaign, which supports the World Food Programme, on its Twitter account for the Latin America and Caribbean regions.

It comes less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup, although the campaign does not reference the tournament as Mastercard is not a sponsor – it is a long-time sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, however.

Journalists, broadcasters, and PR professionals are among those who have criticised the campaign as being in poor taste.

The Times chief football writer Henry Winter accused Mastercard of "turning the World Cup into the hunger games".

Brazilian coach Tite expressed misgivings about the campaign when asked about it at a press conference on Saturday.

"Mastercard, I will tell you something. This donation is very beautiful. It is beautiful and great. And it will still be if you give meals if every Argentina and Brazil player scores," Tite is widely quoted as saying.

"Here we work as a team, and with all these values it can be a little frustrating."

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Contacted by PRWeek, Mastercard sent this statement: "The campaign is running in Latin America, not here in the UK or Europe. This campaign is a small part of our overall global commitment to deliver 100 million meals to those in need of food assistance.

"Mastercard is a firm supporter of the great work done by WFP and over the last five years we have driven a multi-million dollar investment in the agency’s life-saving work. We are proud to be the single largest private sector supporter of this agency. And we have the opportunity to use our brand and our brand ambassadors to raise awareness of this important cause."

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