Photographer: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Qatar Air Becomes World Cup Sponsor After Emirates Ends Deal

  • Emirates dropped sponsorship after FIFA corruption allegations
  • Qatar Air signs pact covering tournaments until 2022

Qatar Airways Ltd. signed an agreement with FIFA to sponsor two World Cup tournaments until 2022, filling a spot left vacant by rival Emirates when it quit its sponsorship following corruption allegations at soccer’s global governing body.

The state-owned carrier will become FIFA’s official partner and airline for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the Persian Gulf country will host the most-watched event in global sports for the first time in the region, it said in an emailed statement.

The deal provides Qatar Airways with marketing and branding rights at the events, with an expected audience of more than two billion people per tournament. The airline declined to disclose the value of the deal, which also covers this year’s Confederations Cup, a warm-up event.

Dubai-based Emirates’ contract began in 2006 and concluded in 2014, with the airline declining to renew it after FIFA faced corruption allegations linked to the World Cup. Soccer’s governing body said it lost $369 million in 2016, triple the losses in the year before, as it suffers the effect of the 2015 corruption crisis. Qatar Airways’ deal with FIFA is the latest in major sporting tie-ups including sponsorship of Spanish football team FC Barcelona.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said FIFA embodies the "power of football’s popularity" and as such is a "natural partner" for the airline.

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