The football (soccer) world has more problems with Russia than U.S. President Donald Trump.
It all started last November with Italy’s elimination from the tournament, which translated to widespread disinterest for the World Cup from one of the major territories where sponsorships of FIFA’s Russian tournament, June 14-July 15, 2018, were expected.
FIFA is football’s governing body, and the World Cup is television’s most-watched sporting event worldwide.
The elimination of the Italian national team was equally attributed to its poor performance on the football field, as well as the controversial qualifying matches selection.
Last December, matches were selected to determine the group in which each of the 32 qualifying national teams will play at the start of the tournament. Some observers said that the selection may have been tainted by bouncing balls — some of which were said to be heavier than others.
The problems continued with companies that are shunning sponsorships for fear of being linked with a corruption-tainted FIFA. Since FIFA Swiss and Italian president Gianni Infantino replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter last year in the wake of the corruption crisis, FIFA has only managed to secure sponsorships with companies in Russia, Qatar and China.
However, Russian companies are not showing enthusiasm, with only two companies having committed to sponsorship deals.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup sponsorships in Brazil generated U.S.$1.65 billion, and the pro-gram was sold out six months before the event’s starting day. This time, the organization could be facing a financial shortfall.
FIFA’s image is now in such a bad state that it has been suggested that the 114-year-old organization should change its name.