Episto survey

World Cup in Qatar


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"We must leave the controversy aside and leave room for the game," said Zinedine Zidane recently about the World Cup to be held in Qatar from November 20, 2022. Is this opinion shared by the French population? One thing is for sure, the most awaited sports event of the year has been unleashing passions for many weeks: environmental disaster, ecological aberrations, non-respect of human rights, deplorable working conditions... the controversies around this new edition are not lacking. A few days before the kick-off, Episto, a specialist in social network studies, took the pulse of more than 1,200 French people to find out their point of view on the controversy surrounding the competition, their intention to follow it or not, but also their perception of the brands sponsoring the event or using it for commercial purposes.

An edition that should be much less attended than in2018

Soccer is the favorite sport of French people: during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, 45% followed the games. However, the mood does not seem to be the same this year: the percentage dropped to 23%! In detail,14% intend to watch only the French team's matches, and only 9% all the matches. The majority (55%) do not intend to follow it.

Among soccer fans, disenchantment also seems to have gained ground: if 99% of them had followed the games in 2018, they are only 68% to consider it in 2022. 13% will not follow the competition at all.

The call for a boycott supported by the majority

For 81% of the French population, the call to boycott certain associations, media, or political parties is justified; a trend that is also true for football fans (63%).

For the French population, several actors should be in favor of this boycott, starting with the French Football Federation (80%). Then come the politicians (79%), the French team (74%), and finally the President (73%).

From an aficionado standpoint, this classification is quite different: the political sphere should support this movement: political personalities (65%) and the President (61%). The French Football Federation comes only in 3rd place (57%). They seem to be even more flexible with the players: less than half (43%) believe that the French population team should adopt a firm stance.

Deplorable working conditions pointed out

The World Cup 2022 suffers from a bad image for all the people questioned: 86% of the French have a negative perception; they are 72% on the side of the soccer fans.

The reasons? The French point first to the working conditions on the construction sites and the ecological damage (76% ex-aequo). Then come the non-respect of human rights (70%) and the accusations of corruption for the attribution of the World Cup to Qatar (40%).

There are few differences among aficionados: working conditions also come first (74%), followed by non-respect of human rights (66%), and then the ecological damage (62%). Accusations of corruption, in fourth place, seem to be more important for this population (45%), which is clearly more attached to the principle of fair play that is part of the spirit of sport.

A warning to sponsors and brands that benefit from the event

For 86% of the French, brands should avoid any communication operation linked to this World Cup. An opinion shared, to a lesser extent, by football fans by 65%.

The official sponsors of the 2022 World Cup attract the wrath of a majority of French people: 89% of them have a bad image of them (nearly 70% among fans). A similar observation can be made for the brands that would use the event to communicate: 89% of the French have a negative image of them (72% among fans).

However, there are some differences in the way this could be translated: if 65% of the French say they are ready to boycott these brands (stop consuming), this percentage falls below the 50% mark among aficionados (40%).

The latter are also more inclined to revise their judgment if these brands were to pay back part of their profits to a compensation fund for the families of workers who died on the construction sites: 57% of them say they could change their mind, compared to 40% of the French.

"The revelation of the human and environmental damage linked to the organization of the World Cup in Qatar has provoked a movement of protest in France and abroad, going so far as to call for a boycott of the event. Even soccer fans have been shaken: nearly 20% of them say they will not follow the competition while 13% are still wondering. We also note that the controversy could be detrimental to the brands associated with the event: the people we interviewed judged them globally with severity. Some of them even say they are ready to boycott them. It remains to be seen whether these statements will be followed by concrete actions in the coming months. One thing is certain, the French are also consumers, who increasingly expect brands to have an ethical conscience and values in line with their own," comments Jeremy Lefebvre, CEO of Episto.

Methodology of the study

Representative sample of the French population according to the quota method: 1265 respondents.

Survey dates: October 14-18, 2022.

Source of respondents: Facebook and Instagram.

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