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COMMENT

29/10/2013

FIFA's new sponsorship structure, which essentially replaces the national sponsorship category with a regional equivalent, looks like a shrewd move. It basically allows for greater revenues from the regional sponsors based on the simple maths of offering rights to several countries instead of just one. Obviously such a change couldn't happen without the agreement of the first and second tier sponsors and there may have been a bit of arm twisting here, although presumably the categories on offer would be non-competing. If the tier one and two category rights aren't seen as diluted, then there is a good chance that energy companies in particular would be tempted given the fact that Russia and the Middle East will be the next hosts. Similarly, regional banks and food brands would also qualify as likely candidates.

What might be more interesting is what happens in 2026. The potential revenues in Europe, if staged there, could be huge. Western Europe is still the world's biggest consumer market, and certainly from a soccer point of view, it dwarfs every other continent in its ability to deliver a large, passionate population with a high disposable income.

This could add pressure to bring the event to Europe. If FIFA sees the potential extra revenues on offer from a European World Cup as compared to e.g. one in Australia, Africa or South America, could it influence the pressure to vote for the European option?

Also, is there a chance that a World Cup in Europe could cause friction with UEFA who effectively have the only pan-European soccer rights with three tournaments (Champions League, European Championships and Europa Cup). Not even the mega-clubs such as Man Utd, Real Madrid, Barcelona etc really have much sponsorship leverage across Europe. Their rights tend to work predominantly where their fan base is strong; in their home countries and in Asia.

This is a positive move by FIFA, but could it have some consequences that had not been considered?

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