The next FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 14 in Russia next year, and there has been much anticipation around it. The Volunteer Programme has been a massive success, and 150,000 applications have been received, setting history.
Worryingly enough, however, two-thirds of the sponsorship slots remain unsold. So far, only 10 of up to 34 deals for next year’s finals in Russia have been confirmed. While there is still a year left for the programme, at this stage in Brazil, most sponsors were already in place.
Tournament organiser FIFA has signed just one new top-tier level partner, China’s Wanda Group, since the last tournament in Brazil.
Further worrying is the fact that for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, only one “regional sponsor”, Russia’s Alfa-Bank, has signed on out of a category of up to 20 sponsors.
“The sales process is ongoing, and new commercial affiliates will join the marketing program before the FIFA World Cup,” FIFA said in an e-mailed statement, without revealing any further details. FIFA’s longtime marketing head Thierry Weil left in October after Alfa-Bank and Wanda were brought on board. Fifa hired Philippe Le Floc’h as the chief commercial officer and Jean-François Pathy as director marketing services, but the only new sponsor under them is Hisense, who joined Budweiser and McDonalds in the second-tier “sponsor” category, which has between three and five vacancies. Not to mention, the 16-month deal announced Thursday by Hisense’s British division is unusually short for FIFA, which typically looks for contracts of at least two World Cups.