While it may appear that Emirates and Sony leaving FIFA is a statement against FIFA and their practices, that might not be 100% of the story. There are other factors that go making a big decision like that. What FIFA does can have varying degrees of importance in a decision to sponsor or not.
Take Sony for example. Sony has been reporting losses of over $2 billion this year. They also have been losing money for multiple years. When a company like Sony is losing billions and bleeding money like crazy, all of a sudden that nine figure FIFA sponsorship doesn’t look so hot.
I wish I could say that Emirates and Sony are ending their sponsorships because of FIFA’s corruption but I can’t say that for sure. There are multiple reasons why they could pull sponsorship but FIFA being corrupt provides for some positive PR and an easy answer for when people ask why they’re leaving FIFA.
Either way, this does put pressure on FIFA to do something. FIFA has now lost two of their six World Cup partners within a month. Currently, only Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai and Visa remain sponsors. The only way for FIFA to listen and make changes is when the money goes away. Sponsors are giving a lot of money, $700 million in a four-year period, and when one gives money, one gains influence as to what goes on. The more sponsors are dissatisfied, the more likely fundamental changes can be made within FIFA.
Frankly, I am more interested in how a company like Coca-Cola handles this situation. While Emirates and Sony were in the final year of their contracts and decided not to renew, Coca-Cola still has a few years left on their deal. Coca-Cola has been publicly criticizing FIFA over their investigations on corruption from the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. If Coca-Cola puts their money where their mouth is and voids the rest of their contract by invoking an “embarrassment clause,” that’ll make for a far bigger statement against FIFA than Emirates and Sony. If, or when, that happens, then it’ll be a big deal. Emirates and Sony are baby steps on the path of change, Coca-Cola can be the catalyst that really gets things going.