Soccer News & Notes – December 11, 2010

Blatter: Qatar could share World Cup with "nearby" nations
Friday, December 10, 2010

Sepp Blatter, president of football’s world governing body FIFA, said countries near Qatar could host some 2022 World Cup games according to French sports daily L’Equipe.

Blatter said Australia, another bidder, had proposed to host games in New Zealand and Qatar could do the same with "nearby countries," L’Equipe reported.

South Korea’s bit to host the 2022 World Cup also said it would stage some matches in North Korea if it won.

"With Qatar, we are opening up football to a new world and a new culture," Blatter added. "The Islamic world consists of a billion people."

Source: SoccerEx Business Daily

Barcelona, Qatar Foundation Agree To Record Shirt Sponsor Deal

FC Barcelona Will Look For Ways To Have Both Qatar, UNICEF On Shirts

Spanish La Liga club Barcelona Friday announced that they have agreed to a "record shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation" worth approximately $40M (all figures U.S.) annually that runs through the ’15-16 season, according to REUTERS. Barcelona said that the deal is the "biggest for any soccer club," and it will earn the club about $220M, including approximately $20M "for the remainder of the current season." The Qatar Foundation has projects "focusing on education, scientific research and community development." Barcelona is "one of the few clubs in world soccer not to have a corporate logo on their first-team shirts, instead displaying the name of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, for which they pay the organisation" about $2M per year. A Barcelona spokesperson said that the club "will seek to find a way" for the logos of both the Qatar Foundation and UNICEF to be displayed, "although if that was not possible the UNICEF name would take priority" (REUTERS, 12/10). In London, Steve Wilson notes the deal marks the "first time" that Barcelona "will sell sponsorship space on their shirts." The deal also marks the "most expensive deal of its kind" in soccer, as the $220M amount "far exceeds anything commanded by other major European clubs" (, 12/10). IMG was the strategic advisor to the Qatar Foundation for their ’22 FIFA World Cup bid and brokered the sponsorship deal between the Foundation and Barcelona (THE DAILY).


All-India Football Federation signs US$155M sponsorship deal with IMG-Reliance

Submitted by Matt Cutler on Fri, 10/12/2010

The All-India Football Federation (AIFF), the governing body of football in India, yesterday officially announced a 15-year commercial deal with IMG-Reliance.

Under the deal, worth a reported Rs 700-crore (US$155 million), the joint-venture between IMG Worldwide and Reliance Industries has acquired all the commercial rights to football in India. IMG Reliance said that, in cooperation with the AIFF, it will radically restructure, overhaul, improve, popularise and promote the game of football throughout India, from the grassroots to the professional level.

"The AIFF has a vision for the sport of football in the country. Our engagement with IMG Reliance comes at a pivotal stage of this pursuit to enhance the quality of football and develop the sport across the country," said AIFF President Praful Patel.

IMG-Reliance will replace Zee Sports, the I-League sponsor for the last five years. The AIFF is believed to have terminated the Zee Sports deal four years early due to delayed payments and a lack of publicity.

The deal follows IMG Reliance’s recent similar announcement of acquiring the commercial rights to basketball in India, in cooperation with the Basketball Federation in India.


IMG Reliance Gains Commercial Rights To Soccer In India

The All India Football Federation Thursday announced that IMG Reliance has acquired the commercial rights to soccer in the country in a 15-year deal. The deal grants IMG Reliance all commercial rights to all soccer properties controlled by the AIFF, including but not limited to the national teams and all current and future pro leagues. IMG Reliance is a joint venture between IMG Worldwide and Reliance Industries (IMG). REUTERS’ Ben Klayman noted terms of the deal, which comes "six months after a similar Indian basketball agreement," were not disclosed, but a source valued it at around $140M. The deal "gives the joint venture the right to ‘radically restructure, overhaul, improve, popularize and promote’ soccer on an amateur and professional level." There are "more than 3.5 million registered players in 36 state associations that are affiliated with the federation." Reliance Chair Mukesh Ambani is "India’s richest man" (REUTERS, 12/9).


Blatter: England are bad losers
Submitted by Matt Cutler on Thu, 09/12/2010

Sepp Blatter, president of football’s world governing body FIFA, yesterday rejected allegations of corruption and accused England of being "bad losers" after the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

England lost out in the race for the 2018 tournament last Thursday after gathering only two of 22 first-preference votes of the FIFA Executive Committee.

Over the weekend acting English Football Association chairman Roger Burden withdrew his application for the permanent post over England’s World Cup bid failure, saying "the role entails liaising with FIFA and I want nothing more to do with them."

"To be honest, I was surprised by all the English complaining after the defeat," Blatter told Swiss weekly magazine Weltwoche in an interview published today. "England, of all people, the motherland of fair play ideas.

"Now some of them are showing themselves to be bad losers. You can’t come afterwards and say so and so promised to vote for England. The results are known. The outcome came out clearly."

"There is no systematic corruption in FIFA. That is nonsense," he added. "We are financially clean and clear."


UEFA Plan To Centralize TV, Sponsorship Puts FA Money In Jeopardy

England’s Football Association "faces a battle to protect" its $290M (all figures U.S.) annual income from TV and sponsorship after UEFA "put in motion plans to centralise the sale of marketing and broadcast rights for European Championship and World Cup qualifiers," according to Matt Scott of the GUARDIAN. UEFA "plans to follow a model such as that used by the Premier League, where broadcast rights are sold collectively and then distributed among member clubs." The move "could shrink the earning power of Europe’s biggest football nations as it would see all monies generated from television and commercial deals shared between the 53 member associations." The plan was a "primary element of talks" at the UEFA Exec Committee meeting that began in Prague Thursday. It is believed that England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy "have serious concerns about how the situation may develop." The "particular sticking point from those nations’ point of view is the scheme’s sponsorship element." The FA’s commercial partnerships are worth $80M a year, and it is "unlikely any collective deal could yield that amount for English football." Scott reports the FA is "understood to be sympathetic to UEFA’s view that the plan … will increase the overall value of television properties." But "whatever the views of the FA, there is a threat the project could be railroaded through UEFA’s congress," as the political structure "ensures a one-member-one-vote system that mutes the voices of individual nations, even those who are Europe’s highest earners" (GUARDIAN, 12/10).

ITALIAN RIGHTS: DAILY VARIETY’s Michael Day reported Sky Italia "has ponied up" $172M "for exclusive rights in Italy to the UEFA Champions League soccer tournament for three years beginning 2012 — paying three times what it spent for the previous rights." Sky Italia "will broadcast two of the three live match packages, as well as the nonexclusive Tuesday and Wednesday highlights programs for the 2012-2015 seasons" (, 12/9).


Serie A players call off strike action
Friday, December 10, 2010

Players in Italian football’s top division, Serie A, have called off a strike planned for this weekend after the Italian Players’ Association (AIC) reached an agreement with Serie A officials over a new collective deal.

An AIC statement yesterday said "positive progress" had been made and that the "protest action is withdrawn".

Although the agreement will not be signed until next week, the collective contract protects the rights of players to reject an unwanted transfer.

"Finally, we have tackled the issues and we are in agreement," said Italy’s football league chief Maurizio Beretta.

Source: SoccerEx Business Daily

Beer brand targets Russia 2018
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Russian beer brand Baltika, owned by the Carlsberg Group, is looking to become one of the main sponsors of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

According to The Moscow Times, Baltika chief executive Anton Artemyev said that the brewer will start marketing preparations for the tournament as soon as possible.

"We can’t say yet if we’ll become a sponsor. We’re looking at it," Artemyev was quoted as saying. Carlsberg’s brands "will be very, very visible" at the tournament, and the Denmark-based company will "certainly capitalise on the event," he said.

Carlsberg’s Baltika unit has about 40 per cent of the Russian beer market, where it is a market leader.

Source: SoccerEx Business Daily

MLS Portland Timbers, Alaska Airlines Unveil Inaugural Jerseys, Themed Plane

Jersey Sponsorship One Element Of Alaska Deal

The Portland Timbers and Alaska Airlines, the official jersey sponsor of the club, Thursday unveiled the team’s adidas uniforms, training wear and apparel line that will be featured during the Timbers’ inaugural MLS season in ’11. The event, dubbed "Runway on the Runway," was held in the 64,000-square-foot hangar of Alaska Airlines’ sister carrier, Horizon Air, at Portland Int’l Airport. Timbers players and Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees revealed the team’s official look to around 1,000 fans. Alaska Airlines also unveiled a specially themed Boeing 737-700 emblazoned with "Proud Jersey Sponsor" alongside the team logo and a Timbers scarf. The team’s primary jersey features a Ponderosa green that pays tribute to the Timbers’ history. The body fabric, which prominently displays the Alaska Airlines logo and Timbers primary logo, is specially engineered with the Timbers signature chevron repeating down the middle. The primary jersey also pays homage to the team’s supporter’s group, the Timbers Army, and further celebrates the club’s history with an axe prominently featured on the back of the neck and a subtle, lower-back emboss of a rising sun. The primary jersey will be worn with either white or dark green shorts. The Timbers’ secondary jersey features two shades of red with Rose City thorns repeating down the middle and a new Rose City logo badge prominently displayed opposite the team’s primary crest on the front of the jersey. The secondary uniform is rounded out by white shorts with Rose City red adidas stripes and red socks that feature the "Rose City" verbiage (Timbers).

SEEING GREEN: Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden said that the "business marriage with the Timbers goes beyond the airline being the team’s jersey sponsor, which he said was the largest sponsorship in company history." Timbers and Alaska Airlines officials said that the "repainting of an aircraft to reflect the Timbers’ scarf and logo is just the beginning of the marketing and advertising." In Portland, Geoffrey Arnold reports the two organizations "have a number of events and announcements planned as part of an expanded advertising and marketing campaign." One possibility is Alaska Airlines employees "wearing Timbers jerseys on game days," and another is "acknowledging in some way the Timbers fans that fly on Alaska Airlines." Tilden "declined to comment on those possibilities, but acknowledged the two organizations have more events planned for the future." Timbers COO Mike Golub said that the club "opted to develop fewer, more intimate partnerships with companies in the Portland area" (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/10).


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