McDonald’s is considering to withdraw sponsorship of FIFA World Cup. The American burger and fast food chain has sponsored the World Cup since 1994.
Senior McDonald’s officials have discussed a possible withdrawal from their sponsorship of FIFA due to ethical concerns with the World Cup finals in Russia less than a year away, Daily Mail has reported.
McDonald’s have sponsored the World Cup since 1994 but have been increasingly critical of the governing body’s approach.
In October 2015, McDonald’s called for former president Sepp Blatter to step down in the face of FIFA’s continuing corruption crisis and also made clear to the new leadership that they expected serious improvements. The topic continues to be discussed amid concerns that sponsors could be tarnished by ongoing investigations into corruption. McDonald’s insisted on Saturday that they remain committed as sponsors.
But one source close to internal discussions indicated that there is ‘around a 40 per cent chance’ that the company could pull the plug ahead of Russia 2018.
The Russia World Cup has been dogged by controversy, from allegations of corruption in their bid for the tournament to this newspaper’s revelation two weeks ago that FIFA are now investigating whether Russia’s entire 23-man 2014 World Cup squad were part of the country’s state-supported doping programme.
According to business magazine Forbes, McDonald’s pay FIFA between $10-25million a year. The existing deal runs until 2022 and it is believed that McDonald’s would have to pay more than $100m to break off from their agreement.
They are expected to stand by FIFA due to the figures involved but it is a reflection of the current concerns that it remains an issue for officials with the World Cup 11 months away.
McDonald’s declined to comment over the financial implications. However, their concern is echoed by Damian Collins, the chair of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee: ‘It is unsurprising that sponsors of the FIFA World Cup are increasingly nervous about being associated with the organisation.
‘If FIFA is to regain the confidence of sponsors and fans alike, it needs to undertake reforms. Blatter may have gone, but the taint of the Blatter years remains.’
Steve Easterbrook, the British CEO of McDonald’s Global, is understood to be adopting a more cautious approach towards the brand and has been keen to ensure that McDonald’s continue to pressure FIFA to reform. The development comes on the back of McDonald’s decision to end its 41-year sponsorship with the International Olympic Committee last month, three years ahead of schedule. McDonald’s insisted that they ‘will continue to hold FIFA accountable for meaningful reform.’
McDonald’s Corp added: “There is no change to our sponsorship plans for the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018. Like other sponsors a couple of years ago, we strongly advocated for FIFA reform including calling for the resignation of former President Sepp Blatter. As a sponsor, we will continue to hold FIFA accountable.”
If McDonald’s backs away from sponsoring the World Cup, a number of other sponsors could follow. And in truth, preventing that from happening is really the only incentive FIFA has to reform. Until it sees its bottom line suffer, the organization has zero reason to really fix things.