Sony Is Considering Future of Its World Cup Sponsorship, Executive Says

Sony Corp.’s European head of soccer sponsorships said the electronics maker is still looking at its backing of the World Cup as the sport’s governing body probes allegations of corruption in its executive committee.

The investigation into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 events “isn’t great” for companies in discussions about supporting the tournament, Sony’s Toby Shaw said. FIFA’s sponsors would prefer to associate themselves with the World Cup rather than the organization itself, he said.

“We don’t say we’re a partner of FIFA. We say we’re a partner of the World Cup,” Shaw told delegates today at the International Football Arena conference in Zurich.

Five miles away, FIFA officials were holding a series of meetings at the organization’s headquarters following the suspension of two executive committee officials last week and an investigation into alleged collusion between two contenders for the World Cup. FIFA’s executive committee will meet in two days.

Sony is one of only six official FIFA partners. It will keep that status at the next World Cup, which will be staged in Brazil in 2014. Shaw said it hadn’t decided whether to continue beyond then. FIFA’s marketing team was pitching this week for the 2018 and 2022 events.

“We concentrate on whether it’s right for our business going forward,” Shaw said. “We are still evaluating the last World Cup.”

Commercial Rights

The World Cup is sport’s most-watched event and is worth as much as $5 billion to the hosts, according to a study by the U.S., which is competing with Qatar, Japan, South Korea and Australia to stage the 2022 tournament. Russia, England and a joint Netherlands/Belgium offer are contending for 2018 along with Spain/Portugal.

Commercial rights to this year’s World Cup in South Africa sold for around $3.4 billion, 30 percent more than the previous event in Germany in 2006.

Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii last week were told by FIFA they couldn’t participate in any soccer- related activities until the completion of an investigation into their conduct. The Sunday Times newspaper alleged on Oct. 17 that the duo told undercover reporters their votes for future World Cup hosts could be exchanged for cash.

Four other officials -- Slim Aloulou, Amadou Diakite, Ahongalu Fusimalohi and Ismael Bhamjee -- were also provisionally suspended in relation to an alleged breach of FIFA rules. They too were caught up in the newspaper probe, speaking to reporters about facilitating access to the men who’ll decide where the tournaments will be held.

The Spain/Portugal bid committee and Qatar are being investigated after speculation the two groups have discussed a vote-sharing pact, FIFA’s ethics committee chairman Claudio Sulser said Oct. 20.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in Zurich via the London newsroom at 3677 or tpanja@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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