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Monday, January 24, 2022

Qatar Airways is the new official airline of the FIFA 2018, 2022 World Cups


Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Paris Air Show/Facebook

Qatar’s national carrier has signed a multi-million dollar deal with FIFA to become an official sponsor for the next five years.

This means Qatar Airways’ name will be on several upcoming football-related events around the world, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2022 World Cup in its own backyard.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed by FIFA or the airline.

FIFA headquarters. Credit: MCaviglia/Wikimedia

But in a statement, the world’s football governing body called it “one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”

This likely puts the cost of the deal in the hundreds of millions of dollar range, in line with at least three of FIFA’s other current major partners: Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai.

Embattled organization

The deal comes as FIFA attempts to recover from the biggest corruption scandal in its history.

In 2015, several officials faced bribery and racketeering charges in the US. Also that year, FIFA’s longtime top boss Sepp Blatter was banned from football activities for the foreseeable future.

FIFA Congress (video still)

FIFA has also been dogged by unproven allegations that Qatar and Russia bought hosting rights to the World Cup.

These claims, taken with FIFA’s recent promise to uphold human rights in Qatar amid international concerns, has some wondering if the new tie-up will create conflicts of interest.

Still, the deal is sure to help the Swiss-based organization with its recent financial woes. It reported a $369 million loss during its 2016 fiscal year.

And a few years before this, high-profile sponsors Sony and Emirates declined to renew their partnerships with FIFA.

Second-tier partners have also pulled out in recent years, including Johnson & Johnson and Castrol.

According to Reuters, FIFA is now still on the hunt for second-tier World Cup sponsors and third-tier regional supporters.

‘Natural partner’

In a statement about the new Qatar Airways tie-up, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said:

“FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker with FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura. Credit: Qatar Airways

For its part, Qatar Airways, which also has partnerships with FC Barcelona, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC and other sporting events, said the tie-up makes perfect sense.

Its CEO Akbar Al Baker called FIFA “a natural partner,” adding:

“We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be proudly held in our home country, the State of Qatar.”


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