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Budweiser Extends Soccer World Cup Sponsorship as FIFA Fights Graft

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), the world’s biggest brewer, signed an agreement with soccer’s governing body for its Budweiser brand to remain the World Cup’s official beer sponsor for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

The deal extends a relationship between FIFA and Leuven, Belgium-based AB InBev that started at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The tournament, FIFA’s biggest revenue generator, is sport’s most-watched and generated $1.1 billion in marketing income when it was last played, in South Africa in 2010.

“Budweiser has played a vital role in helping to develop our flagship event, effectively supporting us in bringing the event closer to fans all over the world,” FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke said in a statement.

Last week, he was sat alongside FIFA President Sepp Blatter to announce plans to reform the Zurich-based organization following a slew of corruption scandals, which led to the resignation of several prominent officials and concern among sponsors, fans and national governments.

The tournament in South Africa brought in over $4 billion from television rights and sponsorship sales. Four days ago, FIFA announced News Corp’s Fox won the English-language rights to show the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in the U.S. Business Daily said Fox would pay $450 million to $500 million, as much as five times more than Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN paid for the current cycle. Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014 before it moves to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

AB InBev will have the right to sponsor local events with brands including Brahma in Brazil and Harbin in China, according to today’s statement.

‘Opportunities’

“We’re looking forward to the opportunities presented as the FIFA World Cup tournament brings the excitement of the beautiful game to new and different places around the world,” the brewer’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Burggraeve said.

FIFA partners including Sony Corp., Adidas AG and Coca-Cola Co. expressed concern earlier this year about the organization’s corporate governance following allegations of impropriety around the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the election for the FIFA presidency. Blatter won after his sole challenger, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, quit amid a vote buying investigation. Bin Hammam is fighting the life ban from the sport he received in July.

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

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

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