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Exclusive: Fifa marketing chief defends World Cup sponsorship as brands exit

Thierry Weil, Fifa’s marketing director, has defended the value of a World Cup sponsorship, with news emerging today (Friday) that two more companies have decided against renewing high-profile deals.

UK newspaper the Telegraph reported today that second-tier World Cup sponsors Castrol and Johnson & Johnson have followed top-tier partners Sony and Emirates by choosing not to renew deals following the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Continental, which was also named in the report, confirmed last year that it would not renew its second-tier World Cup sponsorship.

"There is no denying that recent months have represented a challenge for both Fifa and our sponsors," Weil told SportBusiness International. "However, we have been working closely together with our sponsors to ensure that they are consulted and aware of all developments. As a group we are now looking forward to developing plans for the upcoming high-profile tournaments, including the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand and Women’s World Cup in Canada this year.

"It is normal that as brands’ strategies evolve they may choose to reassess their sponsorship properties, as highlighted in the cases of Emirates and Sony."

Weil said that Fifa was already in the process of replacing the departed brands, by adding: “We're in discussions with a number of brands related to sponsorship agreements in all three of our categories, ranging from tier one Fifa partners, tier two Fifa World Cup sponsors and tier three regional supporters.

"We remain fully confident that a partnership with Fifa as a tier one partner offers significant value for brands to associate themselves with Fifa’s full portfolio of events and to contribute to the development of football worldwide through involvement in our wide-reaching football development and CSR initiatives.”      

The full interview with Weil can be found in the January/February issue of SportBusiness International, published on February 1.