Emirates cuts FIFA ties amid ongoing Qatar World Cup corruption backlash

Emirates Airlines has opted not to renew its lucrative sponsorship deal with FIFA just months after it was one of several sponsors who voiced concerns over the latest corruption charges against the organisation tarnishing their brands.

The company has become the first sponsor to walk away from football’s governing body in the wake of fresh corruption allegations against the Qatar World Cup bid.

However, Emirates claims its reason for backing out of the deal was due to unfavourable contractual terms. In a statement it says: “The decision was made following an evaluation of FIFA’s contract proposal which did not meet Emirates’ expectations.”

The airline had hinted such a move was on the cards earlier this summer when it joined fellow FIFA sponsors to demand the organisation investigate its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The Emirates first threatened to axe its FIFA ties in 2011. It said at the time that it would seriously consider not extending its sponsorship contract beyond 2014 should FIFA fail to address allegations of vote-buying in its presidential election and the alleged wrongdoing of executives who voted for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

It means the Dubai-based airline will not be officially tied to the World Cup when it comes to domestic market Qatar in four years. Despite its absence, the airline’s brand is entrenched in football through deals with Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and AC Milan in football and so any fallout its split with FIFA should be minimal.

It now leaves Sony as the only one of FIFA’s six top tier partners to not have agreed an extension following discussions. Although, it is understood that the electronics maker is due to turn down the proposal in order to focus its football sponsorship activations around the UEFA Champions League.

FIFA will be spoilt for choice in finding replacements for both Emirates and Sony with rivals Qatar Airways and Samsung tipped to be the likely candidates.

While corruption allegations have dogged FIFA in recent years, sponsors are still prepared to a pay premium for rights to all its assets.

The World Cup in Brazil generated $4bn in revenue, with $1.4bn coming from sponsorships and $2.6bn from TV rights. Since the 2006 Word Cup, sponsorship revenue increased 33% for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and is said to have jumped 10% to £1.4bn for the 2014 edition, according to Forbes. Emirates spent around $100m over the past four years to be one of FIFA’s partners, according to Brand Finance.

The Emirates decision comes just weeks after Michael Garcia, the lead investigator into alleged corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, criticised FIFA for not conducting its ethics investigation in a transparent manner.

Latest from Marketing Week

Marketoonist on PowerPoint pitches

The Marketoonist

Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here Tom Fishburne will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing, which is taking place on 4 and 5 October at Tobacco Dock. To find out more information, including how to book tickets, visit […]


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here