MASTERCARD has faced a backlash on social media over its “disgusting” campaign to donate 10,000 meals to starving children every time footballers Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr score.
The credit card company announced it would donate the equivalent value of the meals to the World Food Programme (WFP) for children in Latin America and the Caribbean each time the football stars net a goal between now and March 2020.
But, despite the campaign being backed by Messi and Neymar, it instantly sparked outrage on Twitter, with some likening the “horrible publicity stunt” to the fictitious Hunger Games, and many suggesting Mastercard should just hand over the money if it can afford to.
Wow, just wow,” another Twitter user said in response. “The World Cup that became known as the ‘Hunger Games'.”
Others also raised concerns that it would put a lot of pressure on the two forwards’ shoulders to score and also on the keepers, who would effectively be denying starving children free meals if they save potential goals.
Barcelona player Messi said he was “proud to be a part of this campaign that will help change the lives of thousands of children in my country and other regions of the world”.
Neymar Jr added: “I’m happy I can help make sure that children in the region can have a plate of food and more hope.
“Latin Americans know we can do great things when we come together, and this is an example of that. Together we can fight hunger.”
Goals that Change Lives is part of the Start Something Priceless campaign which aims to combat childhood hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mastercard and the WFP announced a joint 100 Million Meals global initiative last year, aimed at raising significant funds and meals for those in need around the world.
The WFP also honoured Mastercard with a Hunger Hero award in 2017 for its work to combat hunger in the world.
The World Cup is set to kick off in Moscow, Russia, on June 14.
A spokesperson for Mastercard told The Independent: “The campaign in question is running in Latin America, not here in the UK or Europe.
"This campaign is a small part of our overall global commitment to deliver 100 million meals to those in need of food assistance.
"Mastercard is a firm supporter of the great work done by WFP and over the last five years we have driven a multi-million-dollar investment in the agency’s life-saving work.