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Emirates ending of its FIFA sponsorship a result of corruption and Arabian Gulf politics

Emirates ending of its FIFA sponsorship a result of corruption and Arabian Gulf politics
November 6, 2014

The decision of Emirates airline to end its partnership with world football governing body FIFA is understood to be the first example of one FIFA’s major sponsors acting on the corruption allegations that have engulfed the organisation over the past year.

Emirates, whose US$200 million partnership with FIFA dates back to 2006 when it became the first airline sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, has said it will end its sponsorship at the end of 2014.

Another of FIFA’s six global partners, Sony, is also understood to be reviewing its position as the four year World Cup cycle draws to a close at the end of 2014.

Repeated allegations of cronyism and corruption within FIFA have led to pressure on not just the organisationbut on sponsors to influence change.

However, FIFA may well not suffer as a result of the withdrawl of Emirates and Sony as it is understood to have replacement partners lined up lined up in Qatar Air, the national carrier of the country that will host the 2022 World Cup, and Samsung.

In June, sponsors including Sony, adidas and Visa demanded allegations of corruption concerning the bidding process for 2022 World Cup be taken seriously.

However, adidas, despite admitting the “negative tenor of the public debate” around FIFA was bad for football, has renewed its sponsorship until 2030.

According the UK newspaper The Guardian “for all the adverse publicity surrounding its scandal hit executive committee and the bidding process that led to the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, FIFA has continued to go from strength to strength commercially.

“Even if a sponsor falls away, a direct rival is usually only too keen to take its place.”

In ending its partnership, Emirates said only that the contract proposal did not meet with its expectations while FIFA said it had known since 2012 the airline was not going to renew.

The end of Emirates partnership with FIFA is not expected to imapct on its impressive football sponsorship portfolio which includes a number of high profile teams and events including Asian Football Confederation, Arsenal FC, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Hamburger SV, Real Madrid, Olympiacos FC, Arsenal Soccer Schools Dubai, The Emirates Cup, and Zain Saudi Professional League.

However, regular Australasian Leisure Management contributor James M. Dorsey, author of of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, believes that “lurking in the background of ... FIFA’s talks with Qatar Airways to replace its Dubai rival Emirates as a sponsor is the escalating hostility between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as a result of their divergent attitudes towards political Islam.

“It is hard to disassociate state-owned Emirates’ decision from the UAE’s deteriorating relations with Qatar that has led to the incarceration in the UAE of Qatari nationals on charges of spying, an environment in which Emiratis are more reluctant to visit Qatar, and UAE’s investment of millions of dollars in efforts to undermine its Gulf rival’s image and credibility.

“In that environment, Emirates is unlikely to want to have appeared as a sponsor when Qatar hosts the World Cup in eight years’ time.”

Meanwhile FIFA looks sets to agree moving the 2022 World cup to a time period in the (northern hemisphere) winter.

In recent days, Qatari officials have expressed a preference for a winter tournament for the first time while FIFA General Secretary, Jérôme Valcke has stated “we are getting closer to narrowing the dates for the World Cup to two options – January-February 2022 or November-December 2022.”

Emirates is also a major sponsor of rugby, including the Rugby World Cup 2015.

31st October 2014 - TENNIS AUSTRALIA AGREES MULTI-YEAR SPONSORSHIP WITH EMIRATES

19th July 2014 - FOOTBALL AN EMERGING BATTLEGROUND IN CONTROLLING IRAQ

31st January 2014 - EMIRATES TO CONNECT FANS TO NEXT TWO RUGBY WORLD CUPS 

4th November 2011 - EMIRATES EXECUTIVES’ FIFA REVELATIONS ‘THE BIGGEST SPONSORSHIP STORY OF THE YEAR’

3rd November 2011 - EMIRATES EXECUTIVE QUESTIONS FIFA SPONSORSHIP

9th September 2011 - COMPANIES THAT SPONSOR OUTPERFORM THOSE THAT DON’T


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