It’s not doubt that all football lovers from across the globe are anxiously looking forward to the World Cup 2018 in Russia. It is one of the greatest celebrations of the ability of sports to make people of all ages and races come together and the 2018 World Cup is not any less anticipated on the part of fans but there are problems elsewhere.
FIFA has had a rough couple of years and the body is not quite ready for the 2018 World Cup just yet. FIFA is finding it unusually hard to attract sponsors for the 2018 world cup because of a myriad of factors.
It is now less than a year to go but FIFA has only managed to fill in 12 of its sponsorship spots out of the 34 spots that it has to offer. The body has also been unable to attract a broadcaster to carry the games in the host country
In 2014, the story was vastly different. By this time, most of FIFA’s sponsorship spots were filled and many of the deals had even been agreed to years in advance. This time around, several sponsors, the likes of Sony, Emirates, and Castrol did not renew their contracts. Michael Payne, a former marketing chief for the International Olympic Committee said that “With one year to go, this situation is unheard of.”
It is, however, not hard to pick out a number of reasons why FIFA is having difficulty in finding sponsors for the 2018 World Cup. We will check out five of them below;
The Corruption Scandal
Sponsors are possibly reluctant to associate with FIFA which has been riding out a corruption scandal since 2015. The corruption scandal implicated former FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, who was suspended alongside other top officials.
Last year, the lawyers representing FIFA said that Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke, and Markus Kattner wrongly profited $80m (£55m) from
the organisation in the past five years. Sepp Blatter was FIFA’s former president, Jerome Valcke was the former secretary general and Markus Kattner was the former deputy secretary general.
Investigators said that the three allegedly enriched themselves with a series of salary increases, bonuses and incentives in the past five years, some of which broke the law.
Although FIFA now has some new blood including current FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, the investigations into the corruption scandal still continue to ricochet. In May, the body replaced a judge and a prosecutor serving on its ethics committee with new people and the two claimed that their dismissal, with hundreds of investigations in progress, would mean the “de facto end to the reform efforts.”
Gianni Infantino was quick to refute them but that may not have been enough for sponsors to back the body that has gained a terrible reputation.
The fact that Russia is hosting
Russia has not exactly garnered themselves a stellar record in sporting competitions and they are the hosts of the 2018 World Cup. In fact, The Mail covered a story on Russian players being probed by FIFA as part of a broader scandal over allegations of state-backed doping in the country.
This story reignited a series of calls for Russia to be excluded as a host for the 2018 World Cup. Last year, the US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart said the World Cup “should be removed” until Russia could prove it was compliant with doping regulations. With all the angst against Russi a hosting, sponsors may not want to get in the mix.
Admissions that workers have suffered human rights abuses
In May, The Guardian covered a story where Gianni Infantino admitted that “there have been human rights abuses of workers involved in the construction of the arena in St Petersburg due to host matches in next year’s World Cup.”
According to them, the FIFA President admitted that some of the workers from North Korea worked under conditions that are “often appalling.” Local reports alleged that accommodation for the North Korean and other workers was in crowded storage containers outside the stadium, and a North Korean man was apparently found dead in one of the storage containers, having suffered a heart attack.
Human rights abuses are a taint on the 2018 World Cup preparations that would be enough to scare off any potential sponsors that do not want to be associated with such practices.
Accusations of misusing income
Besides the corruption scandal, FIFA has also faced accusations of misusing what income they do have. FIFA’s legal bills rose from $20m in 2015 to $50m in 2016. There is also the World Football Museum in Zurich, run by FIFA which apparently cost $190m to build but has failed to attract many visitors.
FIFA lost $369m in 2016, which equates to triple the losses of the year before, and the body forecasts a loss of $489m in 2017. Reserves, which have been above $1bn since 2008, are predicted to fall to $605m next year.
With such a poor show for its financial books, FIFA should have some hoops to jump through to show that the money from sponsors will not be wasted.
Despite all these and the FIFA still thinks it will meet its revenue target of $5.6bn over the 2015-18 cycle, thanks to a steep rise in revenue from the 2018 World Cup in Russia but that eventuality will depend on money from television and sponsorship.