Browsing 'fifa' News

Paris Air Show/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s national carrier has signed a multi-million dollar deal with FIFA to become an official sponsor for the next five years.

This means Qatar Airways’ name will be on several upcoming football-related events around the world, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2022 World Cup in its own backyard.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed by FIFA or the airline.

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

But in a statement, the world’s football governing body called it “one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”

This likely puts the cost of the deal in the hundreds of millions of dollar range, in line with at least three of FIFA’s other current major partners: Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai.

Embattled organization

The deal comes as FIFA attempts to recover from the biggest corruption scandal in its history.

In 2015, several officials faced bribery and racketeering charges in the US. Also that year, FIFA’s longtime top boss Sepp Blatter was banned from football activities for the foreseeable future.

Video still

FIFA Congress

FIFA has also been dogged by unproven allegations that Qatar and Russia bought hosting rights to the World Cup.

These claims, taken with FIFA’s recent promise to uphold human rights in Qatar amid international concerns, has some wondering if the new tie-up will create conflicts of interest.

Still, the deal is sure to help the Swiss-based organization with its recent financial woes. It reported a $369 million loss during its 2016 fiscal year.

And a few years before this, high-profile sponsors Sony and Emirates declined to renew their partnerships with FIFA.

Second-tier partners have also pulled out in recent years, including Johnson & Johnson and Castrol.

According to Reuters, FIFA is now still on the hunt for second-tier World Cup sponsors and third-tier regional supporters.

‘Natural partner’

In a statement about the new Qatar Airways tie-up, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said:

“FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker with FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

For its part, Qatar Airways, which also has partnerships with FC Barcelona, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC and other sporting events, said the tie-up makes perfect sense.

Its CEO Akbar Al Baker called FIFA “a natural partner,” adding:

“We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be proudly held in our home country, the State of Qatar.”

Thoughts?

QFA

Saoud Al Mohannadi, vice chairman of Qatar Football Association

A senior Qatari football official has won his appeal against FIFA’s ethics committee, which had banned him from the sport for one year.

Saoud Al-Mohannadi was cleared of allegations that he failed to cooperate with the ethics committee on an undisclosed investigation.

In a statement, FIFA said that there was not enough proof to meet “the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee” that Al-Mohannadi did anything wrong.

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

It added:

“Therefore, the one-year ban imposed by the adjudicatory chamber on Mr Al-Mohannadi, which entered into force on 16 November 2016, and the fine of CHF 20,000 have been lifted.”

The punishment was imposed against the Qatar Football Association (QFA) Vice-Chairman in November 2016.

The exact nature of any impropriety remains unknown, but FIFA previously said that it was not related to the 2022 World Cup.

QFA had maintained that the charges were “without legitimate basis.”

Elections

Al-Mohannadi, who is also vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, was also prohibited from running for a seat in FIFA’s newly reformed executive committee.

AFC

AFC Extraordinary Congress 2016

Displeased by this, Asia’s top football officials refused to participate in a planned ExCo election in September.

According to Al-Mohannadi’s lawyers, a new election is set for May. However, Reuters reports that he has missed the deadline to stand for these elections.

Thoughts?

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

A new advisory board with a human rights focus will hold its first meeting with FIFA in Zurich today.

The formation of the independent panel comes as the world’s football governing body fends off international criticism over labor abuses in various countries.

Problems have been found especially in nations that have held and will host the World Cup, including South Africa, Brazil, Qatar and Russia.

Mohamad Nuski/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Last year, the author of a report commissioned by FIFA urged it to “consider suspending or terminating” its relationship with World Cup hosts who fail to clean up their human rights records.

The organization has stopped short of committing to that recommendation.

But in a statement this month, FIFA said it will take the new board’s advice seriously when it comes to ensuring that “labour standards, health and safety, property rights, security, discrimination and freedom of expression” are met across its operations.

‘Standing up’ for rights

The panel includes representatives from the United Nations, trade groups and businesses such as Coca Cola.

Human rights groups appear to be cautiously optimistic about the development.

SCDL

Workers on Khalifa stadium renovation

Speaking to Doha News, James Lynch, deputy director of global issues at Amnesty International, said the panel “includes a number of credible voices.”

But he expressed concern because the panel’s mandate appears to have changed from one of monitoring and oversight to advising.

He added:

“If FIFA is going to live up to its recent public commitment to take human rights risks as seriously as it does its commercial interests, then it will need to listen very carefully to the advice of this group and act on their recommendations.”

In addition to the new panel, FIFA said it is coordinating closely with Qatar and Russia’s World Cup organizing committees to ensure they are meeting appropriate labor standards.

It added that officials are also working on integrating human rights criteria into the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup.

Thoughts?