Mastercard has chosen to scrap a charitable initiative linked to football stars Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. that many have found to be in poor taste.
Last week, Mastercard announced its plans to donate 10,000 meals to hungry children in Latin America and the Caribbean each time Messi or Neymar Jr. score a goal across any official tournament. The company had originally planned to extend the effort until March of 2020, but intense backlash has caused it to halt the initiative after just five days.
"We don't want fans, players or anyone to lose focus on the critical issue of hunger and our efforts to raise support for this cause," Mastercard told The Associated Press on Monday. "Based on the feedback, we are adjusting this campaign to replace the 10,000 meals donation per goal by Messi and Neymar Jr. with a contribution of one million meals in 2018. This is in addition to 400K meals we have already donated as part of the campaign.”
Over the weekend, Mastercard was criticized for attempting to trivialize an issue as dire as hunger. Many called out the company for choosing to withhold meals from starving children until a goal is scored, and even Brazil coach Tite, whose team is sponsored by Mastercard, weighed in on the matter.