Sony Set to End FIFA World Cup Sponsorship Amid Qatar and Russia Concerns

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 25, 2014

Visitors walk past a logo of Sony at Sony Building in Tokyo Thursday, July 31, 2014. Sony reported a surprise eightfold jump in quarterly profit as sales got a perk from a cheap yen and its bottom line was helped by gains from buildings and its stake in a video-game maker. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Growing concerns over FIFA's transparency will see football's global governing body lose its second sponsor in the space of a month after it was reported Sony Corp. intends not to renew their partnership agreement.

The current deal is set to expire at the end of this year, and although the termination isn't official, Dow Jones Business News (h/t Nasdaq) cites an inside source in reporting of the Japanese conglomerate's intentions.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13:  DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach speaks in front of the World Cup trophy as the Germany team celebrate at a party, after winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match against Argentina, at Sheraton Hotel on July 13,
Pool/Getty Images

FIFA has come under increased fire relating to the authenticity of bids made by Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, respectively.

This is thought to have played a part in the other exiting sponsor, Emirates Airline, pulling out of its contract earlier in November.

COSTA DO SAUIPE, BAHIA - DECEMBER 05:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter attends the FIFA Executive Committee Meeting Press Conference during a media day ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 5, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

According to the report, Sony's current deal is worth Yen33 billion (£178.5 million), but FIFA's greater concern will be the growing haste with which its partnered brands are beginning to pull out.

President Sepp Blatter has been at the centre of the controversy, and his Bundesliga equivalent Reinhard Rauball is among the latest to speak out against FIFA's figurehead, per German newspaper Kicker (h/t Telegraph):

In contrast to others who just do it via the media, I rang up Mr Blatter personally recently and asked him to resign. I can't be accused of holding myself back on this issue. But the decision by the Fifa executive committee in favour of Qatar is not made by Mr Blatter alone - 22 people are entitled to vote.

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Most people just throw up their arms and say 'that's very bad'. But that is not enough. We need a prospect. There is no willingness to publish both the Garcia report and the decision of the ethics committee, but it is simply unavoidable. The impression remains that people are being protected and that is intolerable.

Sony's alleged decision to no longer be associated with a body linked to accusations of bribes and other wrongdoings strikes as one of pure business intent.

FIFA ethics chief Michael Garcia recently caused a stir after demanding the findings of his investigation into the Russia and Qatar bids be made public. However, independent ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert found no fault with the bids, per the New York Times' Sam Borden.

As a result, an independent third-party, FIFA audit and compliance committee member Domenico Scala, will now review the report to determine what information may be released.

In the Nasdaq report, the source is quoted saying "[Sony] the company was also concerned about the possible negative implications of further associations with FIFA."

Stan Collymore recently touched on the topic of corruption with Bleacher Report's Ryan Bailey, insisting that England should take the initiative in walking away from the 110-year-old organisation:

Should Sony indeed opt to not pen a renewal, it will come as a big blow to FIFA and its reputation; if other media partners decide to follow suit, it could be disastrous.

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