BrewDog defends World Cup ‘anti-sponsor’ campaign after criticism

The Scotland-based brewery is facing backlash about showing World Cup games, as well as its work culture and history with Israel.

BrewDog isn't mincing words about how it feels about the World Cup.

CANAL WINCHESTER, OH: BrewDog is responding to negative feedback after it revealed its Proud Anti-Sponsor of the World F* Cup campaign on Monday morning. 

As part of the initiative, the brewer is donating all profits made from its Lost Lager beer during the World Cup to causes fighting human-rights abuses. The brewery has also released a series of out-of-home billboards

“Football's been dragged through the mud, before a single ball's been kicked. Let's be honest: Qatar won it through bribery. On an industrial scale,” BrewDog CEO and cofounder James Watt said on LinkedIn

Watt referenced Qatar’s laws against homosexuality, use of flogging as a punishment and an incorrect statistic about 6,500 people dying while working on stadiums for the World Cup. 

The statistic, which stems from a 2021 article from The Guardian, actually refers to the more than 6,500 migrant workers that have died in Qatar since the country won the World Cup bid in 2010

“To be clear, we love football; we just don't love corruption, abuse and death. So join us. Let's raise a glass to the players. To the fans. To free speech. And two fingers to anyone who thinks a World Cup in Qatar makes sense,” Watt added. 

Twitter users have criticized BrewDog for still showing the World Cup, which will run from November 20 to December 18, in their locations, prompting the brewery to respond.  

Watt also directly responded to a complaint.

BrewDog has also faced backlash for its work culture, which resulted in a letter from 61 ex-employees claiming various issues, as well as its previous work with Israel. 

“We thought long and hard about whether we wanted to show matches in our bars but decided to do so for two reasons,” a BrewDog spokesperson told PRWeek via email. “One, if you love craft beer and you also love football, you shouldn’t be denied the chance to enjoy them together just because FIFA is corrupt. Two, all profits from Lost Lager sold during the tournament will be donated to human rights charities. We will raise a lot more money if we show the matches in our bars. ”

Watt later tweeted, “What an incredible reaction to our World Cup campaign. And if a bit of the usual [T]witter hate is the price we have to pay for massively raising awareness of the continued human rights abuses in Qatar and the obvious corruption of FIFA, then so be it.”

Numerous controversies have arisen since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup nearly a decade ago, including a two-year investigation that alleged the country paid FIFA $3.7 million in bribes to ensure its support. 

BrewDog, which was founded in Scotland, has U.S. locations in Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania, according to its website. The company recently enlisted Rooster to handle PR for its cider brand Hawkes. 

Editor's note: This story was updated on November 7 with comment from BrewDog. 

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