Sony, one of FIFA’s “big six” sponsors, has decided not to renew its mega-deal with the soccer governing body, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The Japanese electronics giant becomes the second major sponsor – following Emirates Airlines – to cut ties with FIFA following the scandal involving the awarding of future World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
The current deal between Sony and FIFA – an eight-year contract worth approximately $280 million – is set to expire at the end of this calendar year, and according to the Wall Street Journal report, the company has decided not to renew over the “negative association” involved with the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
Another reason for the move presented in the report says the company is restructuring its electronics division following increasing profits in the image sensors sector, with cuts coming to its television and smartphone production. Those sectors being sliced are the major push in the company’s deal with FIFA.
A FIFA spokesperson claims the governing body is still “in discussions” to renew the deal.
Sponsors have begun to show anger with FIFA’s instance that the World Cup bids were conducted cleanly, despite glaring evidence to the contrary. Emirates was the first to pull out, although Qatar Airlines – an official sponsor of the Qatar 2022 bid – has reportedly begun negotiations to step in and replace them.
Coca-Cola, another major sponsor, has also recently criticized FIFA for its handling of affairs, but nothing has been said on whether the beverage company would take further action. “Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us,” a statement from Coca-Cola read on Sunday. “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 conducted an investigation of the bidding process, but the investigation has unleashed more questions than it answered after the organization refused to release the full report. Even the report itself was brought under fire after it was revealed a FIFA executive – ethics committee chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert – transcribed the official report despite a third-party investigator conducting the investigation. Most recently, FIFA’s report was criticized for blowing the cover of several inside sources that Michael Garcia’s investigation promised secrecy.
Money talks, and while public pressure is unlikely to move a giant like FIFA, the loss of major sponsorship is one way to change their tune. If other sources arise and other companies step in to take Sony’s place, little will be done. But little by little it appears, for now, things are starting to move the needle.