To read this content please select one of the options below:

“Football is war” – FIFA's reactions to a real war and the response of football fans

Abdel K. Halabi (Federation Business School, Federation University Australia, Churchill, Australia) (School of Accountancy, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Brendan O’Connell (School of Accounting, Information Systems and Supply Chain, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 8 December 2022

Issue publication date: 5 March 2024




The commentary examines the possible rational for Federation Internationale de Football Association(FIFA) sending a series of tweets on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


The commentary counts and analyses the number of tweets sent by FIFA media between 1 February and 1 March, 2020 and indicates that these concerning the war in Ukraine represent a radical departure from past topics. Stakeholder engagements with the tweets on the war were recorded and these far surpassed other regular topics.


FIFA's stance in condemning the war and taking direct action against Russia was effective in generating far greater stakeholder engagements in Twitter than other football-related posts. While the tweets were favourably received by many fans, not all of that response was positive, and in fact, some were extremely hostile.


An analysis of tweets and their responses provides a relatively new and powerful mechanism for gauging stakeholder engagements. The authors also contribute to the literature on communication strategies of sporting bodies by demonstrating how the integration of social issues into social media posts is likely to exhibit a strong response, albeit not always favourable. When sporting bodies (such as FIFA) depart from their core mission, they risk alienating some stakeholders when they delve into controversial social and/or political issues.



The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful comments from the two reviewers, and those of the guest editors.


Halabi, A.K. and O’Connell, B. (2024), "“Football is war” – FIFA's reactions to a real war and the response of football fans", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 700-706.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles