With its statements, some of which were absolute, the world football association Fifa had created the "false and misleading impression" in its commercial communication that the World Cup in Qatar was already climate-neutral or CO2-neutral before and during the tournament, the SLK announced on Wednesday. The burden of proof lies with the advertising company.
In the proceedings, however, Fifa had not been able to prove the accuracy of these statements. It did state that it had already compensated for the 3.63 million tons of CO2 protected in advance. But it had not been able to prove this compensation and had not submitted a concept for any further compensation.
Even if the estimate should correspond to the final figures, it remained unclear to the SLK whether the promised compensation was at all realistic. It is also unclear whether the compensation measures comply with Swiss standards. These required, among other things, "a complete and permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere".
Recommendation for waiver of statements
The Second Chamber of the SLK therefore upheld all five appeals from Switzerland, France, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands. "As long as there are no definitive and generally accepted methods to measure sustainability or to ensure its implementation," a company is not allowed to claim that sustainability goals have been achieved.
The SLK recommends that Fifa refrain from calling the World Cup in Qatar climate neutral in the future - unless it is able to prove all CO2 emissions of the tournament and their offsets at the time of communication.
Climate Alliance delighted
One of the complainants, Climate Alliance Switzerland, reacted with satisfaction to the decision. Among other things, it had criticized the fact that Fifa had not taken into account the effects of the shuttle flights from Dubai, Riyadh or Kuwait to Qatar in its calculations. CO2 emissions from the construction of the stadiums had also been ignored.
The ruling is therefore "a strong message to all companies that want to engage in greenwashing," it said in a statement. Companies and organizations such as Fifa can no longer avoid dealing with their actual footprint.
The Swiss Fairness Commission is a self-regulatory body of the communications industry. It issues recommendations, but no judgments that can be enforced by the state. The decision is not legally binding. (SDA)