FIFA corruption crisis: Sony takes a step back

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Hi all,
I was reading earlier an article on Sport Business.com reporting the fact that Sony distances itself from the FIFA World Cup bid crisis. Sony is a FIFA partner, so are adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Visa, Hyundai-Kia. Sony said that “the probe into the bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup “isn’t great”.

According to Sport Business, Sony distances itself from FIFA, and the comments are self explanatory. The accusation of corruption within the World Cup bidding process followed by the suspension of two FIFA officials raised concerned within the Japanese firm staff.

Sony’s European Head of Sponsorship Toby Shaw said to news agency Bloomberg:  “We don’t say we’re a partner of FIFA. We say we’re a partner of the World Cup”. Sony clearly outlines his displeasure with the whole corruption mess/allegations/crisis (call it whatever you want) FIFA is in.

We recently saw sponsors really concerned (or angry to put it mildly) when their players have a bad code of conduct and when they commit reprehensible felonies, leading their sponsors to take actions.  Wayne Rooney was dropped by Coca-Cola for instance.

Now for the 1st time in football sponsorship history (correct me if I am wrong), a FIFA partner is showing concerns on FIFA officials misconducts. The two FIFA officials have been dismissed, therefore guilty….or not?

It’s fairly new among the FIFA partners, that one of them is questioning the behaviour and ethic of the football governing body officials, and consequently, outlining the damage done to their brand. What will be the position of the 5 other FIFA partners? What do they have to say? what will they say? The same way a player misbehaving drags the sponsor image through the mud, bribery allegations could also be considered as similar conduct, and this is what Sony is concerned about.

According to Sport Business, Sony’s sponsorship agreement with FIFA runs until end of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and Sony is still considering if it would like to renew it for 2018 and beyond. Time will tell whether the impact of bribery claims were a decision maker or breaker.

Karl Lusbec