FIFA is projected to run a deficit of almost $100 million this year. The last time it lost money was in 2001. Roger Pielke, Jr., professor of sports governance at the University of Colorado, said sponsors are, traditionally, the last to react to a sports scandal. He thinks today’s actions mean something.
“The fact that FIFA lost money indicates that, actually, the actions of the sponsors are having an effect and are compelling the organization, kicking and screaming, to move its governance into the 21st century,” he said.
It’s not cheap to put together events like the World Cup. FIFA spent close to $2 billion to put on the tournament in Brazil last summer.
Susan McPherson, CEO of McPherson Strategies, said FIFA needs the money. Last year, Sony and Emirates didn’t renew their FIFA partnerships. But, all told, McPherson said FIFA’s lucky.
“Given some of the scandals that have happened in the last year, they’re fortunate that the likes of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Hyundai and Nike are still on board,” she said.
Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU, said one reason those companies are still on board is that live sporting events are one of the few current television experiences that maintain a captive audience.
“In a digital age, it’s very hard to find scale,” he said. “The temptation to get in front of a billion eyeballs is just too great.”
It’s unlikely all of FIFA’s sponsors are going to pull out and demand reorganization. Thomas Ordahl is the chief strategy officer at Landor. He said more transparency between sponsors and the organizations they’re supporting will continue because that’s what consumers expect.
“Part of that, people are expecting sponsors to be more aware of the businesses and the practices of the businesses they’re sponsoring,” he said.
FIFA still has a little while to ink in all its advertisers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But at last count, half of the major sponsor slots are still open.
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