May 7 – On the eve of the week of their Congress in Bahrain FIFA have signed a new airline sponsor. Qatar Airways becomes Official Partner and the Official Airline of FIFA in a sponsorship deal that will take through to 2022 when their home country hosts the World Cup.
The sponsorship begins immediately with the Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia this summer, and includes the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the FIFA Club World Cup, and the Women’s World Cup 2019.
The package also gives the airline branding at FIFA’s age-group competitions including the U-20 World Cup, the FIFA Futsal World Cup and the FIFA Interactive World Cup, the online gaming tournament. No figure has been announced for the deal.
FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura flew Emirates into Bahrain for the start of the world governing body’s annual Congress before departing immediately for Doha, Qatar, for the announcement.
“FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. We look forward to working hand in hand with Qatar Airways to promote FIFA competitions and football around the world,” said Samoura revealingly in a press released statement.
The Qatar Airways deal is an important if not unexpected sponsorship for FIFA which has struggled to sign new sponsor partners under new president Gianni Infantino.
Qatar Airways joins Adidas, Coca Cola, Gazprom, Hyundai, Wanda and Visa as main sponsor partners. FIFA will hope that this reopens the door for other potential sponsors to put their trust in their competitions and brand.
FIFA did recently announce a short term World Cup sponsorship with China’s Hisense taking them through to the end of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. So far FIFA has only three sponsors in this category – Budweiser and McDonalds.
Qatar Airways is about to give up the shirt sponsorship of Spanish giants FC Barcelona to Japan’s Rakuten in a €55 million a year deal that will start next season and run through to the end of the 2020/21 season. The airline was expected to announce instead a €50 million four year deal with Barca. It seems FIFA may have stepped in and trumped Barca for that sponsorship cash.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways understands the power of sport in bringing people together in the spirit of friendly competition. FIFA, as the governing body of the world’s most popular sporting tournament, the FIFA World Cup, understands the power of football’s popularity, and as such is a natural partner for Qatar Airways. We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in our home country.”
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