Despite the astronomical viewership ratings that the World Cup draws, FIFA has been struggling to sell sponsorship packages prior to the 2018 tournament in Russia. The toxic reputation (see 2015 corruption scandal) of soccer’s global governing body has put an end to U.S. and European companies investing in the world’s most watched sporting event. In fact, FIFA hasn’t signed a new U.S. or European sponsor since 2011; when Johnson & Johnson did a one tournament deal. As a result, FIFA is projecting a best-case scenario where advertising revenues remain flat in 2018; after growing $650 million in 2014, from $1 billion in 2010.
Howie Long-Short: 6 months remain before the start of the tournament and just 7 of 8 top-tier sponsorships ($135 million/per) have been sold. Just 4 of the 6 second-tier sponsorships ($67.5 million/per) are accounted for and 19 of 20 local sponsorships ($10.5 million/per) remain available. FIFA has also been unable to find a Russian broadcaster willing to pay the $100 million asking price for domestic rights to the ’18 tournament. The global governing body is on pace to lose more than $540 million this year; it simply can’t afford to leave $470 million in potential revenue on the table.
Fan Marino: Former Chelsea FC star Ashley Cole was in NYC this week as part of the club’s global outreach program. On Tuesday, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection joined FC Harlem and Chelsea FC in announcing plans for a new $3.5 million project that includes a covered soccer field; a first for grassroots soccer in New York. JWS had a chance to get his thoughts on if the U.S. missing the 2018 World Cup would set the sport back in America.
Cole: Hopefully it’s just a phase for this tournament. If you look at the other big countries that didn’t make it, do you say the same about them? I don’t think so. I just think they didn’t play well in the group stages and they got punished. I’ve been on an England team that didn’t make it to a Euro or a World Cup, it’s difficult. They have good young players coming through. MLS is growing. Hopefully they can regroup, get together and don’t think “it’s the end of the world”. Now to push on, improve as players and get ready for the next tournament.
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