In November 2022, Notre Affaire À Tous, a not-for-profit association, filed a complaint with the Jury de Déontologie Publicitaire (French advertisement ethics self-regulatory organization) for misleading advertising (greenwashing) against the International Association Football Federation (FIFA). Similar complaints for misleading advertising have been filed in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands to challenge the carbon neutrality claims of the Qatar World Cup. These complaints allege that FIFA has made a commitment to consumers and spectators to organize a carbon neutral tournament by reducing and offsetting GHG emissions.
Specifically, Notre Affaire à Tous claims that
• There is a lack of clarity of the statements advertised regarding environmental and climate performance of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar presented by FIFA. FIFA presents short and punchy messages, using superlatives on several occasions by calling the World Cup "the most compact" and "the most carbon-neutral in history". To be accurate, however, such messages must be supported in a way that is understandable and comprehensible for the public to which they are addressed (section 4 of the ARPP's Recommendation on sustainable development), especially in complex systems such as those presented here (section 9 of the Recommendation on sustainable development).
• Such statements are false as shown report by the NGO Carbon Market Watch, which found that the carbon neutrality claims made by the FIFA were based on a considerable underestimation of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by the organization of the World Cup.
• On its website, FIFA claims that the World Cup in Qatar will be "the most compact in history" or "the most compact edition of the competition since 1930". This claim is based on the reduced distance between the stadiums, which will "significantly reduce carbon emissions caused by transportation, teams, officials and fans", and result in "the elimination of domestic flights during the competition." Notre Affaires à Tous claims that these allegations are false in light of the promotion of "shuttle flights" by several airlines in the Gulf region, which shuttled fans residing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, or Muscat, Oman.
• FIFA has chosen to "green" the carbon footprint of the 2022 World Cup by using "carbon offsetting" mechanisms that are not in line with international standards. Notre Affaire à Tous’ claim explains that offsetting should normally be a last resort, if emissions cannot be reduced. Notre Affaire à Tous therefore considers that these carbon neutrality claims are likely to mislead soccer fans, partners, consumers and the five billion or so spectators expected to be watching on television.
The relevant authorities in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland announced that all five complaints would be examined jointly by the Swiss authorities.