TOKYO— Sony Corp. has decided to end its sponsorship of World Cup soccer amid growing concerns about the transparency of the bidding process for the next two tournaments, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
Sony’s contract as one of six “official partners” of FIFA, the soccer governing body, was set to expire at the end of this year. The decision not to pursue a renewal makes Sony the second top-tier sponsor this month, after Emirates Airline, to move to sever ties with FIFA.
FIFA this month closed an 18-month investigation into the integrity of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which are set to take place in Russia and Qatar, respectively. The organization said it found no wrongdoing serious enough to strip the tournaments from the chosen hosts. But Michael J. Garcia, a former U.S. attorney who submitted much of the evidence for that investigation, criticized a FIFA summary as “materially incomplete” and containing “erroneous representations of facts.”
Unlike Emirates, Sony hasn’t officially announced its decision, but the person familiar with the situation said the company wouldn’t renew its eight-year deal, worth ¥33 billion.
One reason for the move, the person familiar with the matter said, is that the company is focusing on cutting costs as it restructures its electronics division, including the smartphone business, which has featured prominently in Sony’s World Cup-related marketing. But the company was also concerned about the possible negative implications of further associations with FIFA, he added.
In June, Sony called on FIFA to conduct a thorough investigation of corruption allegations, saying it expected the organization to “adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations.”
“The existing contract with Sony runs until 31 December 2014 and we are currently in discussions with the brand,” FIFA said in an emailed statement.
Source – http://online.wsj.com/articles/sony-pulls-world-cup-sponsorship-1416901673
This however doesn’t have any impact on Sony and UEFA’s partnership, So Europe will still see Sony & Playstation 4 banners and adverts during the very lucrative Champions League fixtures.