Emirates to End Sponsorship of Soccer Body FIFA This Year

Emirates, the world’s biggest international airline, won’t renew its sponsorship of FIFA, allowing its contract with soccer’s global governing body to expire at the end of the year.

The decision comes after FIFA faced corruption allegations linked to votes for the World Cup and its presidency during the period. Emirates is among FIFA’s six top-tier partners. Four have renewed through at least the next World Cup in Russia and another, Sony Corp., is in discussions about an extension.

“Emirates can confirm that a decision has been made not to renew the sponsorship agreement with FIFA past 2014,” an airline spokeswoman said today in an e-mailed statement. “This decision was made following an evaluation of FIFA’s contract proposal which did not meet Emirates’ expectations.”

Germany’s Spiegel reported this weekend that FIFA is in talks with Qatar Airways to replace Emirates. Qatar, a desert state smaller than Connecticut, won rights to stage the 2022 World Cup. That decision, and one made at the same time to choose Russia as 2018 tournament host, is the subject of a FIFA investigation over improper conduct by voters following graft allegations.

Emirates spokesman Boutros Boutros said as long ago as 2011 that the airline was considering ending its agreement with FIFA that started in 2006 because of the corruption allegations at FIFA. In May 2011 FIFA President Sepp Blatter was elected unopposed to a fourth term after his only rival withdrew days before he was investigated for offering envelopes stuffed $40,000 to FIFA members in the Caribbean.

FIFA said Emirates had informed the organization in June 2012 that it wouldn’t renew the accord. It remains in talks with Sony about an extension to its contract that also ends this year. Emirates declined to extend because it was restructuring its “sponsorship concept,” FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said, without elaborating.

“Due to the ongoing negotiations, we cannot give any further information about future partners in this category at this stage,” Fischer said by e-mail.

Coca-Cola Co., Adidas AG, Visa Inc., Hyundai Motor Co. are FIFA’s other top tier partners. Last year, FIFA made $350 million from sponsorship related to the World Cup.

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