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Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:09 PM

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Exclusive: Emirates exec reveals why the Dubai airline ditched FIFA

Emirates Group vice-president Gary Chapman said it wasn’t only concerns over the corruption allegations for its decision not to renew World Cup sponsorship

Exclusive: Emirates exec reveals why the Dubai airline ditched FIFA
Emirates Group vice-president Gary Chapman. (Getty Images)

Emirates Airline pulled out of its sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup because it no longer felt comfortable with the relationship and the deal did not create "bang for your buck", an Emirates Group senior executive has revealed.

Gary Chapman, who also is CEO of dnata, said he believed sponsorship of World Cups of any sport were often not a good use of marketing budget because they provided little in return on investment.

Earlier this month, Emirates became the first top-tier FIFA World Cup sponsor to announce it would not renew its contract when it expires at the end of the year, stating the decision was made because the contract proposal “did not meet Emirates’ expectations”.

Sony is believed to have also bailed on the tournament, while other top sponsors may follow suit after publicly raising concerns over the administration of the organisation and allegations of corruption during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Chapman said he was not involved in the Emirates-FIFA negotiations but understood the decision to end ties was a mix of discomfort with FIFA and a commercial decision.

“Whether it’s FIFA World Cup or Rugby World Cup, I’m not sure that the bang for your buck is that good [for sponsors], to be blunt,” Chapman said at the Australian Business Council Business at Breakfast event on Thursday.

“You don’t go on the shirt of anyone, so you don’t get that recognition. If you ask people to recall who are the sponsors of these events, you’d be surprised actually how many people can’t actually recall them.

“I think a big part of it is the bang for your buck, there’s a question [there], but you put that with all the other stuff that’s been going on [and] it just kind of gets messy. It’s a lot of money and [FIFA] is an organisation that has some questions over it, there’s no doubt, so perhaps there are better ways you can spend that money.”

Chapman, who negotiated Emirates’ sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup, said while he was initially sceptical of spending money on the sporting event, which will be held in the UK next year, a new model that included branding rights on referees’ shirts was a much better deal.

“I was asked to go and negotiate that deal and I said to Brett Gosper … who’s the CEO there, ‘Look, I’ve been asked to talk to you about it but if it was my money I wouldn’t waste my money on this, because we’re not on any shirts’,” Chapman said.

“He said, ‘well if I can get you on the referee shirts during the Rugby World Cup, will that make a difference?’ And I said, ‘too right it would’. So we’re going to be on the shirts of the referees during the World Cup, which is the first time ever.”

Qatar Airways is most likely to replace Emirates as the airline sponsor of the FIFA World Cup during 2018 and 2022, when it will be held in Russia and Qatar, respectively.

The Doha-based airline has declined to respond to Arabian Business’ request for comment on the matter.

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Marwan El-Nakla 4 years ago

To be honest, it is true, I didn't even know Emirates were sponsoring the FIFA World Cup all this time.