Business man walking by FIFA sign

Sony becomes second ‘Official Partner’ to leave FIFA this month

As the discontent surrounding FIFA’s decision to award the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar grows, they may finally be forced to start cleaning up their act. FIFA have always seemed immune to criticism, but are finally being hit where it hurts – in the wallet. Following the decision earlier this month of Emirates Airlines to end their partnership, Sony have now announced that they will not be renewing theirs when it expires at the end of the year.

FIFA has six official partners for every four year World Cup cycle. For the 2014 tournament in Brazil, they were Sony, Emirates Airlines, Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, and Hyundai/Kia Motors. These partnerships bring in well over $1.4 billion for FIFA in every cycle.

Despite the fact that Sony’s contract was coming to an end anyway, it’s understood that the decision not to renew was in part due to the ongoing controversy surrounding the bidding process. A FIFA spokesmen commented “The existing contract with Sony runs until 31 December 2014 and we are currently in discussions with the brand.”

A third partner, Coca-Cola has also weighed in after they “called for transparency amid the deepening crisis over the organisation’s attempts to whitewash a report on corruption in the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups”. These are strong words from a partner and will hopefully have caught FIFA’s attention.

While fans may rejoice after seeing FIFA partners seemingly taking a stand, the potential impact remains unclear. FIFA are understood to have already lined up Qatar Air to replace Emirates Airlines, and are reported to be in talks with Samsung should Sony not renew their deal.

What are the odds that were Coca-Cola and Adidas to end their deals, they wouldn’t immediately be replaced by Pepsi and Nike, for example?

The discontent among sponsors does certainly feel like a positive step, but if FIFA can easily replace them it may just be a futile action.

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Vicente Navarro