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Friday, June 25, 2021

Reports: Sony to walk away from Russia, Qatar World Cup sponsorships

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A Sony-sponsored VIP seating area.
A Sony-sponsored VIP seating area.

Electronics giant Sony Corp. is reportedly pulling out as a World Cup sponsor amid unresolved allegations of corruption surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 football tournaments.

The Japanese-based firm would be the second company to withdraw its support for the tournaments, which will be held in Russia and Qatar respectively, after Emirates Airline announced it would not be renewing its contract with FIFA when its current deal expires at the end of this year.

Coca-Cola presented FIFA 2014 World Cup Trophy Tour.
Coca-Cola presented FIFA 2014 World Cup Trophy Tour.

The news involving Sony comes several days after fellow sponsor Coca-Cola publicly criticized football’s governing body for the recent “disappointing” handling of its investigation into corruption allegations, according to The Sunday Times.

The newspaper quotes a spokesperson for the soft drinks company as saying:

“Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern for us. The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing. Our expectation is that this will be resolved quickly in a transparent and efficient manner.”

FIFA’s World Cup sponsors – including Adidas, BP, Budweiser, Hyundai/Kia and Visa – have been publicly grumbling about corruption allegations for months.

However, the latest reports surrounding Coca-Cola and Sony suggest that FIFA is failing to allay their concerns, and that some companies would rather cut ties with the international football body than be associated with the upcoming tournaments in Russia and Qatar.

Investigation fallout

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sony has been cutting costs and restructuring its electronics division, which includes the smartphone business that has been prominently featured in its World Cup-related marketing.

The Sony Xperia.
The Sony Xperia.

While the internal reorganization may be one reason for the move, the newspaper cited an unnamed source as saying the company was also concerned about the possible negative implications of continuing to be connected to FIFA.

The football federation has been roundly criticized for its handling of a recent investigation into bribery allegations.

Earlier this month, it published a summary of an internal report that failed to find evidence of corruption in Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup. It also said that there was no reason to re-run the voting process for either the 2022 tournament or the 2018 World Cup that’s to be held in Russia.

Hours later, however, Michael Garcia – the investigator who spent two years researching the allegations and authored the report that formed the basis of the summary published by FIFA – said the document released to the public contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions.”

Emirates will be a World Cup sponsor until late 2014.
Emirates will be a World Cup sponsor until late 2014.

For its part, a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement to Doha News today that “The existing contract with Sony runs until 31 December 2014 and we are currently in discussions with the brand.”

Together, the Sony and Emirates sponsorships accounted for approximately half a billion dollars in revenues for FIFA in recent years that it will be looking to replace.

One lead may be here in Doha. German publication Der Spiegel reported that FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said in September that he was in “promising talks” with Qatar Airways about a deal.

Thoughts?

11 COMMENTS

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Mr. B
6 years ago

How much is that half billion as a percentage of their total revenues?

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  Mr. B

Close to a third so pretty much.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

This is the moment, the turning point. From this point on WC2018 & WC2022 are tainted, and nobody will want the adverse publicity that would come from stepping into a breach made by such a firm as Sony (unless they’re close mates of Qatar). Either FIFA now acts like a responsible transparent organisation to repair the damage or WC2022 is in real danger. This is just the excuse that the European leagues have waited for to put pressure on FIFA and avoid having their seasons wrecked. Hold that stadium rebuild.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Corruption yes, but what about the human rights abuses and deaths of slaves in the construction of the stadiums that will advertise their products?

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

Anyone know where I can buy a z3 Xperia compact?

Diego
Diego
6 years ago

FIFA deserve this for being all over the place.One day a decison is made public,the next someone in FIFA claims different.Whether or not Qatar or Russia had any unethical influence over the decision, FIFAs handling of everything stands out way more for me at this point in time.

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