Attempts to fight alcohol abuse are being sapped by football's links with the booze industry, a report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said today.
"Home team Brazil may be the favourite to win the 2014 World Cup. But whichever country hoists aloft the trophy on 13 July the real winner will be the alcohol industry," it said.
Alcohol has now become culturally ingrained with football, it said. During the World Cup, millions of young people will be exposed to alcohol marketing.
FIFA "has a long record of championing the financial interests of its commercial partners, including Budweiser, the tournament's official beer partner, by imposing extreme conditions on governments around the world," said the feature, authored by freelance writer Jonathan Gornall.
These include tax waivers on any profits made by commercial partners during the World Cup and "bullying" the Brazil government into allowing fans to drink beer in stadiums during the tournament, temporarily overturning a long-standing local ban to prevent crowd violence.
"Such is the power of FIFA that Qatar, a strictly Muslim country with tough drinks laws, has already agreed to sell alcohol in fan zones in 2022," the piece said.
It noted that France in 1991 banned sports advertising and sponsorship by drinks companies.
Despite warnings of disaster by brewers, sports events in France have survived and even flourished with new sponsors, it said.