Ethical Performance
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Scoring an own goal for celebrity sustainability?

April 2015

I was temporarily impressed by footballer’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 50 new tattoos. Not so long ago, the PSG star hoisted off his shirt after scoring against Caen to reveal the names of hunger sufferers across the globe. He uploaded a short clip to his Instagram account – a snippet of a wider video showing support for the United Nations World Food Programme – announcing that he would etch every name onto his body if he could. “Wherever I go people recognise me, call my name, cheer for me,” Ibrahimovic says in the video.“But there are names no one cheers for. There are 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world today. Too many of them are children. They are struck by war, natural disasters and extreme poverty.
“I have supporters all over the world. Beginning today, I want this support to go to the people who really need it. “So whenever you hear my name, you will think of their names. Whenever you see me, you will see them.”
This all sounds extremely laudable until you discover that they were only temporary tattoos. Support for such things needs to be seen to be real and ongoing not just a gimmicky one-off. Support, be it celebrity or financial, needs to be sustainable!
I suppose I shouldn’t have expected them to be permanent but in this tattoo-centric world I just assumed he had. He’s a rich footballer after all – he could have afforded to get them lasered off!
And lest we forget just how well off the beautiful game is, the Premier League has recently landed £5.1bn for its television rights, meaning an average £50m windfall per club. The Living Wage Foundation, which campaigns for companies to pay an enhanced income ensuring a basic standard of living (currently set at £7.85 an hour or £9.15 inside London), points out it would take a club cleaner or catering worker 13 years to earn what a leading player gets every week.
Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, is the only one of the Premier League’s 20 clubs to be formally accredited as paying the living wage, meaning it is paid to both direct employees and sub-contracted staff. Manchester City pays the living wage to all direct employees.And only two other professional clubs in Britain –Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premier League and League Two Luton Town – pay the enhanced basic wage.
Tattoo campaigns seem to be rather on trend right now. Surfers Against Sewage has just launched a new ‘Save Our Seas’ Marine Litter Tattoo campaign to highlight the growing scale and permanence of the marine litter crisis. The campaign takes its inspiration from highly-stylised maritime tattoos that are synonymous with the sea and those deeply connected to it – mariners, sailors, fishermen, seafarers, explorers and in more recent times, surfers and those seeking thrills, excitement and adventure connected to the coastline. The organisation maintains that as tattoos, the designs convey a strong sense of permanence, something that the marine litter crisis is threatening if urgent action is not taken soon.
Maybe I should review my opinion of Ibrahimovic? Maybe his gesture was to reinforce a similar idea that world poverty feels like a permanent fixture and that we mustn’t accept that. It needs to be addressed, ultimately eradicated – just like his temporary tattoos.

Europe | CSR


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