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'Playing God with starving children': MasterCard slammed for donating meals when Messi or Neymar score

By Stephen Barry

Visa may have experienced a Europe-wide outage yesterday, but MasterCard haven't been far behind in the bad publicity stakes this week.

On Thursday, MasterCard unveiled a charitable initiative whereby 10,000 meals will be donated to the United Nations World Food Programme every time Lionel Messi and Neymar score a goal until March 2020.

The aim is "to help combat childhood hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean". However, MasterCard have been accused of gambling children's futures on a game of chance or an injury.

It's also raised the scenario of referees' decisions, VAR overrulings or goalkeepers' saves potentially adding to the plight of childhood hunger. Or, indeed, Messi or Neymar unselfishly passing to a teammate in front of goal could become a much less selfless act.

Messi said: “I’m 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. I hope this initiative gives as many smiles as possible to all the children.”

Neymar 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.”

BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey hit out at the "crass, ill-thought out, and in poor taste" promotion.

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin called it "vulgar to the point of profanity".

"Absolute psychopaths" was Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon's words for the offer.