FIFA is facing the prospect of losing two of its biggest sponsors after airline Emirates decided not to renew its contract and electronics giant Sony also considering ending its links with the world governing body.
The confirmation comes four months after a number of FIFA’s official World Cup partners expressed concerns about the negative publicity surrounding the latest allegations of corruption.
Emirates’ contract expires next month and the Dubai-based airline has confirmed it will not renew its sponsorship. FIFA said it has known of the decision since 2012.
It is understood Qatar Airways – owned by 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar – is considering becoming a sponsor in its place.
FIFA confirmed that Emirates will not be renewing its deal and that talks are ongoing with Sony. Samsung, which is a major Olympic sponsor, may take over from Sony.
Both Emirates and Sony are among FIFA’s official partners – the six top tier sponsors who provided hundreds of millions of pounds in sponsorship income to the world governing body.
FIFA said in a statement to the Press Association: “Emirates had already informed FIFA back in June 2012 about the restructuring of its sponsorship concept and FIFA respects this. Due to the ongoing negotiations, we cannot give any further information about future partners in this category at this stage.
“The current contract with Sony still runs until 31 December 2014 and we are currently in on-going discussions with Sony.”
Emirates also confirmed its plans, saying in a statement: “Emirates can confirm that a decision has been made not to renew the sponsorship agreement with FIFA past 2014. This decision was made following an evaluation of FIFA’s contract proposal which did not meet Emirates’ expectations.”
In June, a number of partners including Sony made public their concerns about the effect of continuing negative publicity around FIFA.
It followed publication of fresh allegations of corruption surrounding World Cup voting and elections for FIFA positions.
Adidas, the sportswear firm which is perhaps FIFA’s most important partner and has a deal until 2030, said at the time: “The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners.”
Japanese electronics giant Sony said in June the corruption claims should “be investigated appropriately” and called for FIFA to observe “its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play”.
FIFA earned more than £230 million from sponsors and other marketing partners last year.
Meanwhile, a Conservative MP has called for the Serious Fraud Office to investigate World Cup bidding after claims that the FBI persuaded a FIFA executive to bug his meetings during the London 2012 Olympics.
Damian Collins says reports that Chuck Blazer agreed to take a tiny, secret microphone into meetings with other football officials should persuade the SFO to investigate.
The New York Daily News reported that Blazer, the American former FIFA executive committee member, agreed to take a bug hidden inside a key ring into meetings, some of which took place in London. He was under investigation by the FBI and tax authorities for millions in unpaid taxes, the newspaper said.
Those he invited to the meetings included Russia 2018 organising committee chief Alexei Sorokin and Frank Lowy, the head of the Australian 2022 bid, but it is not known whether they did actually meet Blazer.
The SFO said last week it does not have the jurisdiction to investigate World Cup bidding but Collins believes the latest reports on the FBI should make it reconsider.
Collins told Press Association Sport: “If the FBI investigation includes meetings that Chuck Blazer held in London during the Olympics, then that should come under the jurisdiction of the SFO.”
US attorney Michael Garcia has finished his investigation into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively. England also bid for the 2018 tournament but was eliminated in the first round of voting.
Garcia’s report is now being studied by the head of FIFA’s ethics adjudicatory chamber, German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, but he has said he will not publish it in full.
Collins wants the SFO to demand FIFA send it a copy of the Garcia report.