Sony ends World Cup sponsorship as Qatar corruption claims mount

The electronics brand is one of six official FIFA partners that sponsored the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Sony is set to back out of its World Cup sponsorship
Sony is set to back out of its World Cup sponsorship

TOKYO: Sony will reportedly cut ties with FIFA at the end of this year amid an ongoing corruption scandal engulfing the international soccer body over its decision to award the 2018 and 2022 competitions to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Sony is one of six official FIFA partners that sponsored the 2014 World Cup, along with Coca-Cola, Emirates, Visa, Kia-Hyundai, and Adidas.

But Sony does not plan to renew its sponsorship with FIFA at the end of this year, according to a report by Reuters. Instead, the brand apparently plans to focus on its cost-cutting efforts, announced earlier this year.  

Sony's eight-year partnership with FIFA was reportedly worth about $280 million (33 billion yen).

Sony has yet to comment on the news, but the decision follows Emirates becoming the first major sponsor to back out of its FIFA contract earlier this month.

Emirates blamed contractual issues at the time, and FIFA said it has been aware since 2012 that the airline would not renew.

Botched corruption investigation
The corruption allegations that have dogged FIFA since the summer were also a consideration, according to multiple reports.

FIFA recently investigated the bidding process that awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, after allegations of corruption in The Sunday Times.

Though the report has not been published in full for legal reasons, FIFA has cleared Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing.

However, the body was plunged into further crisis after lead investigator Michael Garcia disowned the initial summary, claiming it misrepresented his findings. The report is set to undergo further scrutiny by the chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, Domenico Scala.

Sponsor Coca-Cola also slammed the investigation this week, describing the confusion as "disappointing."

"Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us," a spokesman for the soft-drinks giant said. "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 has invited several top-level global PR firms to pitch for an assignment bolstering the reputations of the next two World Cups, in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. However, Edelman and Bell Pottinger said last week that they will not pitch for the account. Burson-Marsteller, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and Weber Shandwick have not commented on whether they will pursue the business.

This story originally appeared on the website of Marketing.

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